bigger fish to fry


bigger fish to fry


  • to have other, more important things to do.
  • to not be interested in something because there are more significant things to accomplish instead.
  • It is used when there are other things to worry about than that person and their pettiness.

Example Sentences

  1. You are not worth my time or energy; I have bigger fish to fry.
  2. I do not have a lot of time to spend on this issue. I have bigger fish to fry.
  3. I asked Bob to help me out on this project, but he said he had bigger fish to fry right now.
  4. I’m afraid I had bigger fish to fry, so I didn’t investigate it in great detail.
  5. Sorry, I can’t chat right now; I’ve got bigger fish to fry.

Origin and History

The phrase “bigger fish to fry” is an idiom in English that means having more important or pressing matters to attend to. Its origin is thought to be rooted in fishing culture, where the size of a fish would determine its value and worth the effort to catch it. The idiom has been in use for centuries, likely evolving from literal fishing contexts to its more figurative usage today.

The earliest known written record of the phrase is found in a collection of proverbs by John Ray, an English naturalist, in 1670. The exact phrase he used was:

“But now we have other fish to fry.”

Other theories suggest that the idiom originated in John Evelyn’s work “Memoirs” in 1660. This saying has English origins. It was initially expressed as “other fish to fry” and was mentioned by Peter Moteuix in his writings during the 1700s. Subsequently, it was used by Cervantes in the novel “Don Quixote.” Although Cervantes employed the expression he had heard in the 1700s, some nuances may have been lost in translation. Nevertheless, this novel remains widely read today, and the idiom it contains remains familiar to many. The idiom “other fish to fry” has versatile applications, serving to convey emotions such as anger, humor, or frustration.

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