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#73934 - 06/22/02 05:22 PM fish or cut bait
redblue Offline

Registered: 06/22/02
Posts: 1
Does anyone know the origin of the phrase "fish or cut bait"? Does "cut bait" mean "cut up bits of bait to use when you get around to fishing, rather than sit there and waste time"? Or does it mean "cut the bait off the hook and throw it away, since you're not actually using it"? Thanks.

#73935 - 06/22/02 06:30 PM Re: fish or cut bait
Geoff Offline
old hand

Registered: 11/12/00
Posts: 819
Loc: Portland,Oregon, USA

I've always understood it to mean cut the bait off and quit pretending to fish. It suggests a half-hearted attempt, IMHO. I think its implication is similar to "poop or get off the pot," or, more recently, "hang up and drive!"

#73936 - 06/22/02 06:37 PM Re: fish or cut bait
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
Dear redblue: I remember seeing this phrase in stories about codfishermen. They had to work hard, and
waste no time, because fish might stop biting, or weather might change. Someone in the dory had to cut bait
for others to put on hooks and cast overboard. So when ashore, and impatient with someone wasting
time, or indecisive, "Fish or cut bait!" was a challenge to them to get moving.
Here's a discussion from a site I found:

Either do some useful work or leave and let other get on with it.


US origin. Cut bait means stop fishing. "

(I don't believe "cut bait" meant stop fishing.)

#73937 - 06/25/02 01:48 AM Re: fish or cut bait
modestgoddess Offline
old hand

Registered: 02/18/02
Posts: 833
Loc: Eastern Ontario, Canada
dear wwh, your explanation makes sense to me: do one or the other, but don't just sit around. Get busy. Either fish, or cut (up) bait for those who are fishing.

Let us go in peace to love and serve the board.

#73938 - 06/25/02 05:15 AM Re: fish or cut bait
Wordwind Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 6296
Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
I think both explanations make sense. I wonder which one is really the original? Somebody better start fishing for the right answer, or cut out baiting us with tempting suggestions!

Waiting with bated breath,

#73939 - 06/25/02 09:36 AM Post deleted by Geoff
Geoff Offline
old hand

Registered: 11/12/00
Posts: 819
Loc: Portland,Oregon, USA

#73940 - 06/26/02 10:19 PM Re: fish or cut bait
zootsuit Offline

Registered: 03/27/02
Posts: 45
Loc: perth, western australia
I once worked with a voluble Glaswegian who had a joke and/or story for every occasion and would often while away work time chatting. One of the commonest phrases he would use when going back to work was "Well, I'd better go - this is neither fishing nor mending nets". I always loved that one, and I guess it is a close relative of the "fish or cut bait" discussed here.

#73941 - 06/26/02 10:39 PM Re: fish or cut bait
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
Dear Geoff: "Baited breath" Have you seen the comments on Altoids in some of the
alternate newsgroups? A new dimension to Monica Lewinsky's specialty.

Here's URL:http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/blaltoids.htm

#73942 - 06/26/02 10:42 PM Re: fish or cut bait
Keiva Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/04/01
Posts: 2605
Altoids? Ah, the invaluable research this board provides!

#73943 - 06/26/02 10:49 PM Re: fish or cut bait
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
Keiva: you are not welcome to post anywhere on AWADtalk.

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