IDIOMS: A different kettle of fish

A tea kettle filled with fish? No, no, no. Let me explain. The word kettle in this particular case doesn’t refer to the teapot you were probably imagining, but to the large, oval-shaped kettle still used mainly in Scotland and the north of England for cooking whole fish. Hope that cleared everything up!

On a more serious note, though, “a different kettle of fish” is an idiom referring to an alternative, a different situation or person to be dealt with. Simply put, something is unlike another thing that you have mentioned or experienced before.

Examples of use in a sentence:

  • I loved the first movie but the sequel is a whole different kettle of fish!
  • Playing for the A-team is a completely different kettle of fish!

However, you’ll have to come to terms with the fact that this phrase is basically unheard of outside the United Kingdom. There are a couple of similar idioms you can use instead, though.

Idioms with the same / similar meaning:

  • another can of worms
  • bird of another feather
  • different breed of cat