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a different kettle of fish


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Choose the correct definition a, b or c.

a) a similar situation

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b) something distinctively different

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A different kettle of fish means something that is completely different from anything or anyone else previously talked about.

The origin of this idiom is heavily debated, although it is said to come from the 19th century and derive from boiling fish in a traditional kettle (the appliance used to boil water or food).

French translation

une autre paire de manches

How NOT to translate : *une autre bouilloire de poissons

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Examples in context

‘How ice-cool Holly Holm shocked the world at UFC 193 Going into the main event at the Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, the general consensus was that Ronda Rousey was the UFC’s equivalent of Superman (or Supergirl, if you prefer).

And in the main event in Melbourne Holm executed perfectly as she delivered the most shocking head-kick knockout in UFC history, eclipsing even Gabriel Gonzaga’s stunning finish of Mirko Cro Cop at UFC 70 back in 2007.

From that moment on I think people began to realise that Holm - a veteran of 38 professional boxing bouts, world championships across three weight divisions and 18 successful title defences - wasn’t going to be intimidated by Rousey.

Some of Ronda’s previous opponents may have been defeated before they even set foot in the Octagon, but this was going to be a different kettle of fish altogether.’

The Sun, 15 November 2015

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‘SFO blames law for setback in Olympus case

One year after ousted British head of Olympus, Michael Woodford, lifted the lid on a $1.7bn accounting scandal at the Japanese camera maker, three former executives pleaded guilty in Japan and were handed suspended sentences.

Speaking at a conference last week, Mr Green said that the Olympus case was a “totally different kettle of fish” to the Celtic prosecution.

Some lawyers said that Mr Green was as keen as Mr Alderman on headline-friendly cases and that the high number of live investigations and prosecutions that the cash-strapped SFO has on its books meant “it is drowning”.’

The Financial Times, 10 November 2015

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Everyday usage

So there’s quite an industry and it’s quite lucrative, I’m told, for those who are extremely successful at it ; for those who are not, that’s a different kettle of fish.

As worthy as is this debate, it is nevertheless a separate kettle of fish ; indeed, a red herring for our company.

c) a weird bunch

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