"fish" (was Re: "moist")

Tue Nov 8 08:45:19 UTC 2011

There is also chapter 7, Catching the Fish, of Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities.  The fish is the individual who is brought the bill when everyone else is away from the table.  This is a standard practice of a group of British expatriates, with the collusion of the bar owner.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Wilson Gray
Sent: Tuesday, November 08, 2011 2:15 AM
Subject: Re: "fish" (was Re: "moist")

On Mon, Nov 7, 2011 at 4:59 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com> wrote:
> "a foolish or inexperienced person"

This was the common meaning of "fish" as a G.I. slang term, back in
the day when I was in The War, fifty years ago. It was used especially
of those newly-arrived from The World - where even cheerleaders still
wore knee-lehgth skirts - who foolishly thought that B-girls could be
seduced, if you bought them enough wine, pernod, or "piccolos," sekt
that came in a 7-Up-sized bottle.

My WAG is that this use of "fish" came about as a consequence of the
manner in which the squares were easily "hooked" by the "bait" - the
miniskirt. The miniskirt had not yet been officially "invented" by
Mary Quant, but it certainly existed as early as 1960. Even shorter
skirts - the likewise-not-yet-officially-invented micro-mini - were
reserved for wearing only on payday.

Since pantyhose had also not yet been invented, the average G.I. was
mustered out with a knowledge of styles of garter belt far superior to
anything that could have been gleaned through even the closest reading
of a Frederick's of Hollywood catalog.

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

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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