Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > Shotten Herring.

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E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
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.   1
“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.

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