have a bigger fish to fry

girl from rio de janeiro

Banned
Portuguese (Brazilian)
Most ESL teachers have a bigger fish to fry. Another subjunctive mood relic is the lack of a third person singular.
I'd like to know if this expression "to have a bigger fish to fry" is an idiomatic phrase to say "to have a bigger problem to face". Thanks!
 
  • TrentinaNE

    Senior Member
    USA
    English (American)
    Bigger fish to fry:
    to have something more important or more interesting to do.
    It need not be restricted to problems. It can refer to opportunities as well, e.g., I turned down Harry's invitation to the movies because I had bigger fish to fry.

    Elisabetta
     

    TrentinaNE

    Senior Member
    USA
    English (American)
    I'm sorry -- I didn't notice the article. I agree with Chris1: I've got bigger fish to fry (not a bigger fish). :thumbsup:

    Elisabetta
     

    Chris1

    Member
    UK
    English
    Good question! Certainly in BE. It may be different on the other side of the Atlantic, but I'd request help from our American friends.....:)
     

    Redshade

    Banned
    UK
    English.
    Ok, so is it right if I say: I can't watch the TV right now, I have a bigger fish to fry?

    Hi.

    I think that watching TV would be too passive an action to warrant the " I have bigger fish to fry ".

    I would interpret the phrase as more of "I am not going to do" ie a "positive action" because I have "bigger fish to fry" meaning an even more important task to perform.
     

    redgiant

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Let's say I've decided to stop following local news anymore because it's nothing but bad news everyday, and there's nothing I can do to change what's happening. My time will be more well spent on something else. Can I say "I don't care what's happening around me anymore. I have bigger fish to fry than wasting my time on reading bad news"?
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I have bigger fish to fry than wasting my time on reading bad news"?
    This sounds unidiomatic to me. I wouldn't say "I have bigger fish to fry than <long explanation>." Also, it's about things being more important than others (which might still be slightly important). Something that is a waste of time is not important at all.
     

    AliBadass

    Senior Member
    persian
    Prison Break TV series (S1 E5): The warden of the prison is going to transfer Michael to another prison. Michael that wants to stay there in order to break out of there with his brother, asks the warden not to do this; the warden says: ''You're up against much bigger fish that me. I'm not behind the transfer.''

    What does the warden mean by ''fish'' here?
     

    TrentinaNE

    Senior Member
    USA
    English (American)
    There's an expression about being a big fish in a small pond. The warden made be alluding to that: he's a big fish (has some power) but there are even bigger fish (with more power) in this setting.
     

    Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    In American English is to have other fish to fry more common than to have bigger fish to fry?
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Me, too.

    This phrase is used when you don't have time to do two things and you have to choose. You would generally choose the more important one (however you are judging importance in that case). "Bigger" clearly represents the idea of more important. Other does not.
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    An example of usage: A police officer has just pulled me over for something minor like failing to signal a lane change*. As he is asking for my license and registration, a Jaguar goes by at 100 mph/160 km/hr, weaving all over the road. The officer calls "I've got bigger fish to fry" over his shoulder as he runs back to his police car to pursue the Jaguar.

    _________________________
    *Not that I would ever fail to signal a lane change, of course.
     
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