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the apparent image of a fishwife is one of a grouchy, rude, loud mouthed woman. So I thought about being this woman. Smelling of fish 24 hours a day, every day of my life would make me grouchy. Sleeping with a man who smelled like of fish 24/7 would make me even grouchier. Watching people come to me to buy my fish, and then stick up their noses at the smell, would make me rude. Because I am not the only fishwife selling my husband's catch, I know the one with the loudest voice will get the customers. Perhaps this is how the image became set.

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    What’s you question? – Jim Oct 25 '15 at 4:44
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    Possible duplicate of Why does "fishwife" mean "mean woman"? – user66974 Oct 25 '15 at 6:59
  • Welcome to EL&U. You need to be more specific on what you want to ask. – user140086 Oct 25 '15 at 7:21
  • I voted it as a duplicate of Josh's question, but three users believed otherwise. The top answer on that question is virtually identical to deadrat's, but typically contains a bit more detail. – Mari-Lou A Oct 25 '15 at 8:37
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A fishwife is a woman who sells fish. She's not necessarily married to a fisherman. Wife here is from the Old English wif meaning woman. It's likely that fishwives got their reputation from having to cry their wares in the London fish market at Billingsgate, which itself has become a byword for profane verbal abuse.

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  • @WS2 I wasn't aware that the old market was that Jewish in the first place. – deadrat Oct 25 '15 at 8:33
  • Sorry - spellcheckers be cursed - the word was genteel! I will delete and repost. Having said that it probably was substantially Jewish - but I have no information on that. – WS2 Oct 25 '15 at 9:52
  • As someone who visited the cramped old 16th century Billingsgate as a child in the 50s, before it moved out to a 13 acre site at Canary Wharf in 1982, let me confirm, as justified, its having been a byword for profane verbal abuse. My teenage vocabulary expanded in minutes. I have never been to the new market but doubt it is any more genteel than the old one, though rather less cramped – WS2 Oct 25 '15 at 9:53

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