singular "small fry"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sun Dec 21 07:38:57 UTC 2008

Engelhardt's phrase sounds fully grammatical, as well as perfectly
clear and reasonable, to me. What should he have written, "He was just
small fry" or what? Is he perhaps a BE speaker? Or some kind of alien?

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

On Fri, Dec 19, 2008 at 11:52 AM, Alison Murie <sagehen7470 at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Alison Murie <sagehen7470 at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      singular "small  fry"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Tom Engelhardt, writing about the collapse of the book market, says,
> of one of its victims, "He was just a small fry"....... While this is
> perfectly clear & reasonable, to me, "small fry" is an invariable mass
> noun, like "scampi."
> AM
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