Fresh Fish

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Thu Dec 1 22:11:45 UTC 2005

Bravo, George !  "Stale fish" is new to me also. It may have been a nonce expression.


George Thompson <george.thompson at NYU.EDU> wrote:
  ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: George Thompson
Subject: Fresh Fish

For "fresh fish" = a new convict, HDAS (2a) has 1871, 1887, &c.; OED
has 1871 for this sense, lacks "stale fish"

If a new prisoner arrived at night he was put into the
room . . . , and the instant he entered, his arrival would be
signalized by the words "fresh fish". . . . If, however, the person
arrived, happened to have been there before, the signal was changed
to "stale fish". . . .
California Police Gazette, April 10, 1859, p. 1, col. 4 & 5

George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.

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