According to the dictionary "Reel" means:

  1. a cylinder, frame, or other device that turns on an axis and is used to wind up or pay out something.
  2. a rotatory device attached to a fishing rod at the butt, for winding up or letting out the line.
  3. Photography.
    1. a spool on which film, especially motion-picture film, is wound.
    2. a roll of motion-picture film.
    3. a holder for roll film in a developing tank.
  4. a quantity of something wound on a reel.
  5. Chiefly British. a spool of sewing thread; a roller or bobbin of sewing thread.

Does anyone know what "Reel" means on the name of this great ska band? Does it have anything to do with any of these definitions or is it a totally different meaning?

1 Answer 1


It is a pun.

"Real big" in colloquial and grammatically-incorrect English, means "really big" or "very large", as in "a real big fish".

A "reel" is a part of a fishing rod, which is used to catch fish.

"Real" and "reel" are pronounced exactly the same in English.

"Reel" is also a verb: to "reel in" a fish is to bring the fish, which has been hooked on the fishing line, into the boat by winding up the fishing line onto the reel apparatus attached to the fishing pole.

I suspect they chose the name because "real big fish" would be hard to trademark, whereas "reel big fish" is unique enough that they could obtain a trademark for it.

  • 2
    There is another definition for "reel". It is a kind of group ballroom dance performed by several couples choreographed together. It comes from the Scottish and Irish traditions centuries ago and was brought to the American colonies and the USA as the "Virginia reel".
    – user546
    Oct 24, 2015 at 19:16

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