"angling" or "fishing" for the right answer:.


Senior Member
Is it true that it sounds better to say "No, that wasn't the answer I was angling for" rather than ""No, that wasn't the answer I was fishing for".

And if so, why might that be?

Thank you very much!

Graham Butler

Senior Member
England English
Either will work. We use quite commonly the expression 'to fish for compliments', a cliche really. I tend to say that I'm angling after something, rather that for something; but that's probably just a personal preference.
John-Paul Miller, NYC
in AE, we would probably not use angling unless actual bait, tackle and fish were involved.

Angling for an answer suggests setting a direction, and aiming, by some oblique angle, for some desired result.

In this particular case, using angling may lead to some loss of nuance. Are you looking for, or working for the answer?

Fishing for an answer is the phrase most likely to be used (of the two).


Senior Member
Well, really I was aiming at understanding the difference between the two, this owing to my english professor (who is unbelievably gifted) corrected a fellow student of mine during class - who said "fishing for an answer" or something like that. He was told: "no - in this case you should be "angling" for an answer". I'm certain he had good reason to say what he did, I just dunno why. It all boils down to what the difference between the two expressions is, and I seem to understand that when "angling" for an answer one's actively trying to get someone to say just what you want him to say. While with fishing maybe just trying to get some answer out of someone, dunno?