Fish or cut bait


      • Take action or make a decision
        Encouragement to stop procrastinating and either move forward with a plan or abandon it altogether

      • Divide responsibilities or tasks
        Suggesting that each person should focus on their designated role or task in a group or partnership, rather than trying to do everything themselves

    Examples of Fish or cut bait

    • "John kept making excuses for not joining the fishing trip. It was time to either join us and actively participate ('fish'), or to politely decline and free up the spot for someone else ('cut bait')."

      The idiom "fish or cut bait" is used to signify that someone needs to make a clear decision and take action, rather than continuing to hesitate or delay. In this case, John's indecisiveness was impacting the rest of the group, and they were urging him to either fully commit to the fishing trip or step aside so they could move forward with someone else.

    • "Our marketing department has been working on this campaign for months, but they're still not producing any significant results. It's time for either a major overhaul ('fish') or to admit it's not working and cut our losses ('cut bait')."

      This example illustrates how "fish or cut bait" can be applied in a professional context. The company has invested a lot of time and resources into the campaign, but it's not achieving the desired outcomes. The team now has to decide whether to keep trying to make it successful or to seek an alternative solution.

    • "I've been dating this guy for ages, but I'm not sure if I really see a future with him. I need to either commit to the relationship and make it work ('fish'), or it's time to end it and move on ('cut bait')."

      This example demonstrates how "fish or cut bait" can be used in a personal relationship. The speaker has grown doubtful about the future of the relationship and must decide whether to actively work on making it better or to accept that it's time to move on and find a better match.

    • "Our sales have been affected by the recent economic downturn, but we can't just sit around doing nothing ('cut bait'). We need to come up with a new strategy ('fish') and adapt our approach to the changing market conditions."

      In this example, the company acknowledges the challenges it's facing due to the economic climate but refuses to simply give up ("cut bait"). Instead, it's taking a proactive approach and seeking out new solutions ("fish") to combat the difficulties.

    • The sales team has been discussing strategies for weeks, but they need to either implement a plan or abandon it and focus on other leads. Fish or cut bait.

      The expression "fish or cut bait" is used to urge someone to either take action or abandon a course of inaction. In this scenario, the sales team has been contemplating different approaches for an extended period without making any moves. The speaker is essentially saying that they should either start implementing their strategies or give up and concentrate on different leads.

    • I've been waiting for him to call, but he seems to be avoiding me. If he wants to be friends, he needs to make a move. Fish or cut bait.

      "Fish or cut bait" is also used to denote an ultimatum or a test of someone's true intentions. In this example, the speaker has been patiently waiting for someone to reach out, but they suspect that he is not interested. The speaker is telling the person in question that if he wants to maintain their friendship, he should take action and make contact.

    • We've been discussing this issue for months, but we need to make a decision. Either we move forward with the project or scrap it altogether. Fish or cut bait.

      Similar to the first example, "fish or cut bait" can be used to prompt a resolution to a prolonged discussion. In this scenario, the group has been debating a specific project for an extended period without coming to a conclusion. The speaker is implying that they should either execute the project or abandon it.

    • She's been talking about starting her own business, but she needs to either take the leap or acknowledge that it's not feasible. Fish or cut bait.

      "Fish or cut bait" can also be used to encourage someone to commit to a course of action. In this example, the speaker is implying that the person in question should either start her own business or accept that the idea is impractical. The phrase is used to convey a sense of urgency and emphasize the need for a decision.


    The idiom "fish or cut bait" may be used in a variety of contexts, but all meanings ultimately revolve around the idea of taking action or making a decision. In one sense, it can be seen as a call to stop hesitating and move forward with a plan, while in another sense it can be interpreted as a reminder to divide responsibilities and focus on one's designated role. In both cases, the underlying message is to stop procrastinating and take action.

    Origin of "Fish or cut bait"

    The origin of the idiom "fish or cut bait" can be traced back to the early 1800s in America, where it was commonly used among fishermen. When out on a fishing trip, there are two main tasks that need to be done: catching fish and cutting bait. Catching fish requires patience and skill, while cutting bait is a more mundane and menial task. In order to be successful, fishermen knew that they needed to focus on one task at a time and not waste time or energy trying to do both simultaneously.

    Over time, the idiom became more widely used in everyday language as a way to encourage someone to make a decision or take action. It highlights the importance of focusing on one task at a time and not becoming overwhelmed by trying to do too much. The origin of the idiom also emphasizes the idea that sometimes in life, we have to do tasks that may seem unimportant or unenjoyable in order to achieve our goals.