English Idioms

play on word ?

What's the double meaning of "a pretty kettle of fish" ?


  • What's the double meaning of "a pretty kettle of fish" ?
  • Another question now, to Gee: what does "yours aye" mean?
    I guess "aye" is written in a different way or means something else, but I can't get it.
    Thanks a lot
  • Just figure out, Kalanxoe, that I am an old man - what in fact I am - and that I'm fond of outdated expressions - what in fact I'm not but just here for once. Some ancient expressions sometimes keep a tough life through ages.

    "Yours aye" is a ending of a letter meaning "Yours ever".
    In this case aye is an adverb pronounced like the pronoun I.
    It comes from Old English as akin to an Old Norse word "a" meaning "always". Aye was used in Middle English to say always, ever, continually. Scraping deeper into the past my dictionary tells it comes from Greek "aion" (age) through Latin "aevum" (age, lifetime).
    I came across that expression in some formal letter I received lately.
    You can also find it in litterature [ex. "love that will aye endure", W.S. Gilbert].
    I don't know if it is quite obsolete.

    As you pointed it out, Kalanxoe, "aye" has got other uses by now.
    As an adverb it's said for "yes".[Aye, sir! = Yeah, sir!]
    As a noun it is an affirmative vote. [The ayes and the noes.]

    Yours aye, / Yours ever, / Kind regards, / Kindest regards, /...
    Pick up anyone to your best discretion.
  • Thanks for the explanation.
    l'agata negra is worth exploring to me.
    Maybe I'll catch up later about the black, the agate and the cat.
    Yours aye.
  • Thanks, precious stone, for setting off a play.

    I don't have the knack for playing with words, unless you help me by giving an example. That's why I'll just shed some light on the idiom in order to help other readers to be more imaginative than I can be.

    The double meaning - i.e. in the figurative - of "a pretty kettle of fish" refers to a mix-up, a great state of confusion in a situation. It is said of a situation, not of a person.

    If I'm not mistaken, we could say that yesterday Horatio and Brian Jones were stuck in a pretty kettle of fish by the mermaids tribe on a remote island.
    But I won't say that Bruno's mind has come be a pretty kettle of fish. His mind has come to mental confusion. Full stop.

    Come to my mind, could a black agate be dragged in a fishnet and land up later in a pretty kettle of fish simmering on the stove?

Please sign in to leave a comment.