Where does the expression “on the fritz” come from and What does it mean?

The expression “on the fritz” means: out of order; gone haywire; on the kibosh; not in good health or in good condition.

According to our best recollections and those of others whom we have consulted, this expression entered the American language about the turn of the century, though it seems to have escaped the notice of recorders of the language.

Who the “Fritz” was whose fame thus became immortalized is now, alas, lost to memory dear.

To be sure Fritz of the Katzenjammer twins had even then begun to grace the pages of the New York Journal, but, though guilty along with Hans of every mischief in the calendar, he was ever in abounding health, definitely not the source of this commemoration.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

1 thought on “Where does the expression “on the fritz” come from and What does it mean?”

  1. I suspect since it was used initially with electrical appliances that is is a “sound word” the friiitzzz sound of something shorting out, i.e. sparks flying buzzing sound.

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