Shotten Herring

A lean spiritless creature, a Jack-o'-Lent, like a herring that has shot or ejected its spawn. Herrings gutted and dried are so called also.

Though they like shotten-herrings are to see,
Yet such tall souldiers of their teeth they be,
That two of them, like greedy cormorants,
Devour more then sixe honest Protestants.

Taylor's Workes, iii.5.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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