Fishing in unclear water

I learned a new expression in Arabic today: يصطاد في الماء العكر pronounced “yastahd fee al-mah al-aker”, meaning “fishing in unclear water.”

Say your boss is giving you a hard time. Then, say someone who doesn’t like your boss gets promoted above her. Now your boss is reporting to someone who won’t listen to her, who won’t take her seriously or be on her side. Now you are in a position to push back on your boss because she can’t go and complain to her own boss and get action. If things were “clear” between them you would be fishing in clear water and you would not have any leverage, but because of the conflict between them, you are “fishing in unclear water” and have influence you would not have otherwise, and can more easily enforce expectations of professional behavior.

Posted in Arabic. 1 Comment »

One Response to “Fishing in unclear water”

  1. xoussef Says:

    There is the same exact expression in French: pêcher en eau trouble, to fish in murky water, with the same exact meaning. I don’t know if it’s a loan, convergence, or both took it from a third language though…

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