The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable

The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable
by E. Cobham Brewer
From the new and enlarged edition of 1894

Kettle (A), a watch. A tin kittle is a silver watch. A red kittle is a gold watch. Kettle, or rather kittle, in slang language is a corrupt rendering of the words to-tick read backwards. (Compare Anglo-Saxon cetel, a kettle, with citel- ian, to tickle.)
Thor's great kettle. The god Thor wanted to brew some beer, but not having a vessel suited for the purpose in Valhalla, stole the kettle of the giant Hymer. (Scandinavian mythology.)

Kettle of Fish A fête-champêtre in which salmon is the chief dish provided. In these pic-nics, a large caldron being provided, the party select a place near a salmon river. Having thickened some water with salt to the consistency of brine, the salmon is put therein and boiled; and when fit for eating, the company partake thereof in gipsy fashion. Some think the discomfort of this sort of pic-nic gave rise to the phrase A pretty kettle of fish. (See Kittle Of Fish.)

The whole company go to the waterside today to eat a kettle of fish. - Sir Walter Scott: St. Ronan's Well, xii.

Kettledrum A large social party, originally applied to a military party in India, where drum-heads served for tables. On Tweedside it signifies a social party, met together to take tea from the same tea-kettle. (See Drum, Hurricane.)
Kettledrum, a drum in the shape of a kiddle or fish-basket.

Kettledrummle (Gabriel.) A Covenanter preacher in Sir Walter Scott's Old Mortality.

Last update
24 July 2000
Kettle Genealogy
home page