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fishing expedition

noun, Informal.
1.
a legal proceeding mainly for the purpose of interrogating an adversary, or of examining his or her property and documents, in order to gain useful information.
2.
any inquiry carried on without any clearly defined plan or purpose in the hope of discovering useful information.
Also called fishing trip.
Origin of fishing expedition
1960-1965
1960-65
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for fishing expedition
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The next morning Mr. Archibald started out, very early, on a fishing expedition by himself.

    The Associate Hermits Frank R. Stockton
  • There must be abstinence from the sex relation before a fishing expedition.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • In going up to Maine on a fishing expedition we had to wait for hours in the woods at a junction.

    My Boyhood John Burroughs
  • This is a fishing expedition in the truest sense of the word.

    Smugglers' Reef John Blaine
  • Hell was very far off, and the delights of a fishing expedition with the Cottons were very near.

    Anne Of The Island Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • It asked for the blessing of God on the fishing expedition which was about to set out.

    The Deemster Hall Caine
  • When Jack and Sandy had brought the oars and tackle from the boat, they set off on their fishing expedition.

    The Bungalow Boys Along the Yukon Dexter J. Forrester
Slang definitions & phrases for fishing expedition

fishing expedition

noun phrase

An attempt, on the part of the police, a prosecutor, etc, to discover evidence where it may or may not be; a sort of inquisition: She had nothing special in mind to ask Joan Tesell; it was just a fishing expedition (1961+)

Related Terms

go fishing

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with fishing expedition

fishing expedition

An attempt to find useful information by asking questions at random. For example, The sales force was told to go on a fishing expedition to find out what they could about the company's competitors. This expression was taken up by lawyers to describe interrogating an adversary in hopes of finding relevant evidence and is now used more broadly still. [ c. 1930 ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Word Value for fishing

14
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