Content-Type: text/shitpost


Subject: I have other fish to fry
Path: you​!your-host​!wintermute​!uunet​!asr33​!hardees​!m5​!plovergw​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2020-03-11T15:44:56
Newsgroup: alt.sex.fish-to-fry
Message-ID: <37a32de762d2af93@shitpost.plover.com>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

The phrase “other fish to fry” goes back to the 17th century:

1660 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (1857 ed.) vol III p. 132 “I fear he hath other fish to fry.”

According to a sloppy Google Books search, variations appear with these frequencies:

  • “Bigger fish to fry”: 25
  • “Other fish to fry”: 20
  • “Larger fish to fry”: 1

It seems to me that “larger fish to fry” ought to mean the same as “bigger fish to fry”, but it sounds weird. Is that just because it's unusual? Or is there some pattern to the way English uses ‘bigger’ and ‘larger’ from which one could predict that ‘bigger’ would predominate here?

A (Dutch) co-worker informs me that the Dutch version of this phrase is “andere katten te geselen”. Instead of frying fish, they are flogging cats. Who knew that the Dutch were so depraved?

(Not really related: OED Quick Search for “other fish” asks: “Did you mean: motherish?”.)