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fishing expedition

noun, Informal.
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.
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
1960-65 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for fishing trip
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • At the age of thirteen while out with a party of men on a hunting and fishing trip, I killed my first bear.

    Fifty Years a Hunter and Trapper Eldred Nathaniel Woodcock
  • He was planning a fishing trip and had stopped at the store to buy some tobacco.

    Mary-'Gusta Joseph C. Lincoln
  • A fishing trip had tired both doctors, and they were sleeping soundly.

  • The first thing for me to learn about was that fishing trip for to-morrow.

    The Believing Years Edmund Lester Pearson
  • It was a wonderful experience for a boy of his age to be his father's companion on a fishing trip.

    The Story of Porcelain Sara Ware Bassett
  • You would be with him for days on a fishing trip and never notice it at all.

    Cordwood Edgar Wilson (Bill) Nye
  • Remember, if any one questions you we are off for a fishing trip.

  • But I can't leave my business affairs and go off on a fishing trip now.

    The Upward Path Various
Slang definitions & phrases for fishing trip

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 trip

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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