Why is Peter Pan called Captain Hook codfish?

06 October 2017 by Suyen Hu

I was reading a story to a child today at school. She loves to read Peter Pan as she says it’s the best story ever!

The story is about a young boy who never wants to grow up and is very brave to fight pirates on the sea. One day, when Peter was fighting with Captain Hook, he said: ‘You don’t want to be called codfish, do you, Captain Hook?’ Captain Hook was irritated and fought back with great anger! The child asked me what does that mean? Why doesn't Captain Hook like to be called codfish? I had no idea either. Then I tried to find answers from Google and from my English friend. There were not many good answers on Google, but I got a very logical answer from a friend.

Newfoundland cod used to be caught, salted and dried in large numbers and in this form was a common diet for sailors and others. On a long voyage the codfish might become unpleasant to eat so the word could be a term of abuse for someone. So calling Hook a codfish could be saying he's rotten and smelly.