1. (US campus) to toady, to ingratiate oneself.
|DA].Diary I 261: He courts me a good deal, and fishes [|
|will of Charle Prentiss in(1856) 200: I give to those that fish for parts, / Long sleepless nights, and aching hearts.|
|letter 17 Oct. in Hall (1856) 201: The good conduct which I have advised you [...] may expose you to the opprobrious epithet, fishing.|
|class poem in(1856) 202: And since his fishing on the land was vain, / To try his luck upon the azure main.|
|Rebelliad 35: Who would fish a fine to save! / Let him turn and flee.|
|College Words (rev. edn) 199: fish [...] to seek or gain the good-will of an instructor by flattery, caresses, kindness, or officious civilities.|
|DN II:i 35: fish, v. To try to get a favor from. [...] To curry favor with instructors.‘College Words and Phrases’ in|
|Taxi-Dance Hall 101: They’re such easy ‘carp’ I figure [...] I need the money more than the others, and I might just as well be the one to ‘fish’ them. [Ibid.] 102: ‘Fishing’ and the ‘sex game’ become for these girls the accepted way of earning a living.|
|Capricornia (1939) 47: Joe went back to Poundamore Downs [...] offering to take the motherless Marigold to give her into the care of her grandparents. Oscar declined the offer, but paid the steamer-fares for which Joe was fishing when he made the offer.|
|Down These Mean Streets (1970) 223: We fished real close and felt each other up. She had a couple of kids from some other cat, so she was hip on what a man dug.|
2. to interrogate.
|Bushranger’s Sweetheart 185: Of course he came to fish you about Walker.|
SE in slang uses
(US black) to gossip.
|Jive and Sl.|
either carry out what you’re doing to the fullest extent or let someone else more competent get on with it while you take a secondary role; note cit. 2004 which is a comb. of this phr. and shit or get off the pot phr.
|N.Y. Times 11 July 8: Ex-councilman MERRITT was in favor of indorsing the nomination: they must either fish, or cut bait, and as they were not large enough to fish they must be content to cut bait for Tammany.|
|Congressional Record 5 Aug. 5226/1: Now I want you gentlemen on the other side of the House to ‘fish or cut bait’ [DA].|
|Denver Post 26 Apr. 4/2: [poem title] Fish, Cut Bait, or Go Ashore.|
|N.Y. Eve. Post 15 Jan. 6: A visitor said the other day that it was to be wished that Senator Hanna would either ‘fish or cut bait.’ But the shrewd Ohio man will probably maintain for a time his ambiguous position [DA].|
|Green Bay Press-Gazette 30 June 8/4: Our duly appointed delegates at the Philadelphia convention must have realized that they had to either fish or cut bait [DA].|
|On the Waterfront (1964) 241: Fish or cut bait. Spill or button up.|
|Maledicta 1 (Summer) 9: The main thing is to [...] get down to the treal linguistic nitty-gritty; to fish or cut bait.|
|Instrument Flying 255: You are at the Decision Height (DH) and you’ve got to make up your mind—either fish or cut bait!|
|Drop Dead, My Lovely (2005) 123: Megan and Greg told Jeffy to shit or cut bait.|
|Pound for Pound 55: So you gonna fish or cut bait?|
1. to obtain, to produce.
|Robbery Under Arms (1922) 10: He fished out this old Mr. Howard [...] and got him to come and keep school.|
|It’s Up to You 46: No matter in which direction I dipped, I was sure to fish up a ring.|
|Inimitable Jeeves 33: I fished it [i.e. money] out, and pushed it across.|
|Brown’s Requiem 13: I fished out my master keys.|
|Robbers (2001) 4: Eddie fished the packet from his T-shirt pocket.|
2. (US Und.) to rob.
|Somebody in Boots 300: Norah would take him and then fish out the till.|