Learn English Online - Idiomatic Expressions

Definition of Idiomatic Expressions


What does have bigger fish to fry mean?

Meaning of idioms with examples...

have bigger fish to fry


If you say you have bigger fish to fry, you mean you have more important things to do.

Other variations of this idiom:

- Have other fish to fry.
- Have better fish to fry.
- Have more important fish to fry.


This phrase dates from the sixteenth century. It appeared in an early translation of Rabelais’s Pantagruel (1552) by Motteux. Later, John Evelyn in his Memoirs (1660) mentions the phrase as follows:
“I fear he has other fish to fry.”

The idiom however is believed to have been in use before these dates and in other languages although in different wordings. In French, the phrase, ‘avoir d’autres chats à foutter’ literally means ‘to have other cats to whip’.


- I can't answer your question. I have bigger fish to fry.
- I won't worry about what other people are saying about me. I have bigger fish to fry.

This idiom is in the animals category

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