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, meaning that some awkward state of affairs has arisen.

The latter is much older, dating from the eighteenth century, while yours is nineteenth century and seems to be derived from it.

An unpleasant or messy predicament, as in They haven't spoken in years, and they're assigned to adjoining seats-that's a fine kettle of fish .

This term alludes to the Scottish riverside picnic called kettle of fish, where freshly caught salmon were boiled and eaten out of hand.

The custom was described by Thomas Newte in his : “It is customary for the gentlemen who live near the Tweed to entertain their neighbours and friends with a Fete Champetre, which they call giving ‘a kettle of fish’.

Tents or marquees are pitched near the flowery banks of the river ...

[Early 1700s] Accusing someone of faults that one has oneself, as in Tom's criticizing Dexter for dubious line calls is a case of the pot calling the kettle black, since Tom's about the worst line judge I've ever seen .

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[Early 1600s] Irritating or embarrassing situation. The Scottish tradition of community fish-boil dinners often degenerated in brawls, to the extent that people began to refer to the events by this sarcastic phrase.

Fish-boils may have evaporated, but the expression and the sarcasm haven't.

Nobody is really sure where the expression comes from, but we do know that the phrase was originally a literal term.

These days, especially in Britain and Commonwealth countries, we think of a kettle as a small enclosed container with a handle and spout for boiling water to make our tea.