Bigger Fish to Fry (to have)

Also used: Other Fish to Fry

Meaning of Idiom ‘To Have Bigger Fish to Fry’

To have bigger fish to fry means to have more important things to do; to have more important or pressing matters to attend to.

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This idiom is often used to dismiss certain problems or concerns brought up by others or to explain why we are not doing a certain thing such as attending to a certain problem or matter.

Examples Of Use

“I don’t have time for interviews right now. I have bigger fish to fry.”

“The prosecutor declined to pursue the case saying he ‘had bigger fish to fry.”

“The police said they had bigger fish to fry than a stolen bicycle.”

“Sorry I’ve got other fish to fry right now. I’ll fix the door tomorrow.”


This idiom appeared in print as early as 1552 in a translation of Rabelais’s Pantagruel by Motteux but was not widely used until at least the 17th century. Alluding to cooking fish,  and the idea that it makes more sense to cook a bigger fish when one is available.

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