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Could I repeat an unanswered question? Why "stitched up like a kipper"?

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P-Kasso2:
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I have never seen a kipper with stitches.

Did they use to stitch kippers back in Dickens's or Shakespeare's day?

'Stitched up like a kipper'.

Where, when and why did this strange phrase come about?

I have had a quick zoom round the usual sites but drawn a blank.

AtMyWitzEnd:
I did look this up last time you asked and couldn’t find a definitive answer. I noticed that the question had been asked in almost every Q&A Website with the same answer being given (not always with the source cited) from ‘The Phrase Finder’ Website.

One reason that I didn’t respond to the question was that I wasn’t convinced by either of the explanations given; either it referred to kipper production or came from kipper ties.

http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/32/messages/147.html

P-Kasso2:
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Darn it!

Somehow, Witz, I share your feeling that the very few 'plausible' meanings
attached to being 'stitched up like a kipper' don't really stack up.

I have this niggly feeling that there must be something more out there, maybe
lost in the gloom of time in the kipper industry?

Did they use to put a stitch in herrrings to stop them blowing away when they
were hung up on racks being wind dried?



I remember these racks (called 'hjelle' in Norwegian) from my years in Norway but,
although I didn't examinine them closely, I seem to recall that the herrings were just
split from the head down, gutted and simply draped over the racks. No stitches needed.

So what else is there?

Kipper ties and Mr Fish?

That seems a bit new and recent to me but, then again, being 'stitched up like a kipper'
does to have a decidely 60s Sarf London twang about it - so maybe it is true.

I certainly can't recall coming across the expression in Chaucer etc etc.

Now I could far more easily understand a phrase like 'I was gutted like a kipper' but the
words 'stitched up' seem too colourful and precise and Sarf London to be co-incidental?

Maybe the phrase was a comedy scriptwriter's invention in the best Steptoe, Del Boy, Arthur
Daley tradition that really caught on?

Galton and Simpson?

Sounds like it could have been them on an especially good day.

Thanks again for the digging, Witz. I'll still be pondering this one for years. Must get out a bit more.

imfeduptoo:
 I wonder if a definite answer can't be found because the saying doesn't actually relate to 'kipper' ?
I've been doing a bit of lateral thinking, which is probably complete rubbish, but it might prompt some ideas into other people and maybe between us we can come up with the real answer!
'To stitch up' means to manufacture evidence, so the more one is stitched up the more evidence is piled up.......
So, as the edible kind of kippers are not usually stiched, I had a look to see if there were any  other kinds of kippers.
To my surprise I found one - although it's spelt differently - and I think it's as good an origin of the saying as any others I've read.
The Kippah is a Jewish head covering for men and, although they can be made from almost any material, they can contain a lot of stitches.
The one in the link below contains over 10,000 stitches.

http://needlepoint.about.com/u/sty/showandtell/SNTbasics/Magen-David-Kippah.htm

So if someone was stitched up like this Kippah, they would be well and truly stitched!

Just an idea..........

AtMyWitzEnd:

--- Quote from: P-Kasso on 20 December, 2010, 11:09:29 PM ---
Maybe the phrase was a comedy scriptwriter's invention in the best Steptoe, Del Boy, Arthur Daley tradition that really caught on?


--- End quote ---
I agree. One of the references I found suggests it was a creation of John Sullivan for "Only Fools and Horses". Like you I have vague recollections of having heard it before that, but I can't recall where. So, I think it might just sound like it's an old saying but is essentially meaningless.


--- Quote from: P-Kasso on 20 December, 2010, 11:09:29 PM ---
Did they use to put a stitch in herrings to stop them blowing away when they were hung up on racks being wind dried?


--- End quote ---
One source suggests that stitch also means to prick or stab' or 'make (a wound) by stabbing, so the expression could refer to the fish being cut open and gutted before being hung up to smoke. This seems a bit of a stretch as that sense of 'stitch' has been obsolete since the 16th century.

It still think it was just a verbal flourish invented by one of the comedy writers you mention.



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