Pretty kettle of fish


      • problematic situation
        Describe a complicated or difficult situation that is challenging to resolve or deal with

      • unexpected turn of events
        Refer to a situation that has taken an unexpected or undesirable turn, causing confusion or inconvenience

    Examples of Pretty kettle of fish

    • When Sarah's boss asked her to prepare a presentation for an important client, she discovered that she had lost the main data for the project on her computer. She frantically searched for the backup file but couldn't find it. Sarah was in a pretty kettle of fish as she had to present the project the next day.

      This idiom means an unexpectedly difficult or unpleasant situation. In this example, Sarah's predicament of losing important data and having to present the project the next day without being prepared is a pretty kettle of fish for her.

    • During the baseball game, the home team was trailing by six runs with only two innings left to play. The commentator announced, "This is starting to look like a pretty kettle of fish for the home team."

      In this example, the idiom is used to describe a situation where things are not looking good for one side, as the home team is far behind in the game and has little chance of catching up.

    • As soon as Tom saw the bill for the repairs to his car, he exclaimed, "This is a pretty kettle of fish! How am I ever going to pay for all this?"

      This example shows how the idiom can be used to describe a situation that is unexpectedly expensive or financially difficult, as Tom is now faced with a large bill he was not expecting.

    • When Jennifer's boyfriend proposed to her, she was thrilled, but when she learned that his family was deeply in debt and he had little money to spare, she realized, "I'm in a pretty kettle of fish here. I've fallen for a guy who can't even support himself, let alone us."

      In this example, the idiom is used to describe a situation where things are not as good as they seem, as Jennifer has fallen in love with a man who has financial problems that will make it difficult for them to build a future together.

    • The CEO discovered a major accounting error in the company's financial reports, resulting in a pretty kettle of fish for the entire board of directors.

      This idiom is being used to describe a difficult or complicated situation that has unexpectedly arisen. The image of a "pretty kettle of fish" suggests something that looks appealing or attractive on the surface but contains hidden problems or complications, just as a large number of fish in a kettle might seem like a bountiful catch at first glance but could prove difficult to manage or dispose of properly. In this example, the unexpected error in the financial reports has created a complex and challenging situation for the board of directors, who now must address the issue in a responsible and effective manner.

    • I didn't expect to lose my job today, that's a pretty kettle of fish.

      This is an example of using "pretty kettle of fish" as a way to express a difficult or unpleasant situation, in this case, the speaker's unexpected job loss. The phrase is used to emphasize the undesirable nature of the situation.

    • The school assembly ended with a bang, but then the fire alarm went off, making it a pretty kettle of fish for the principal to handle.

      Here, "pretty kettle of fish" is used to describe a situation that starts promisingly or positively, but then takes an unexpected and negative turn. The principal's unexpected task of managing the fire alarm amidst an already exciting assembly is a challenging situation.

    • The car broke down halfway through our road trip, leaving us stranded in the middle of nowhere. That's a pretty kettle of fish, isn't it?

      In this example, "pretty kettle of fish" is used to describe a difficult or unpleasant situation that has arisen unexpectedly. The situation of being stranded in the middle of nowhere due to a car breakdown is an undesirable and challenging one.


    The idiom "pretty kettle of fish" is used to describe a troublesome or unexpected situation. It is often used to convey the idea of a complicated problem or an unexpected turn of events. When someone uses this idiom, they are expressing that they are facing a challenging or confusing situation that is difficult to resolve.

    The phrase is often used to express frustration or disbelief at the unexpected or difficult circumstances. It can also be used to convey a sense of resignation or acceptance of a challenging situation that may be hard to overcome. Overall, the idiom is used to emphasize the complexity and difficulty of a particular situation.

    Origin of "Pretty kettle of fish"

    The origin of the idiom "pretty kettle of fish" is uncertain, but it is believed to have originated in Scotland. The word "kettle" is thought to refer to a large cooking pot used for boiling water or cooking food. In the past, hosting a "kettle of fish" was a popular social activity in Scotland, where people would gather to cook and enjoy freshly caught fish.

    Over time, the idiom evolved to describe a messy or complicated situation, possibly stemming from the chaotic nature of preparing and cooking a large quantity of fish. The addition of "pretty" to the idiom emphasizes the severity or unexpected nature of the situation, adding further emphasis to the challenging or unexpected circumstances. Although the exact origin of the idiom is unclear, its usage has persisted over time, and it continues to be a common expression in the English language.