on the fritz
Posted: 19 March 2018 05:43 AM   [ Ignore ]
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The Log has a guest post by Stephen Goranson that suggests “fritz” is a variant of “friz” = “froze(n)”; there are some pretty impressive citations, such as:

What would the little acorn do
If it had no place to grow?
Would Santa Claus be on the “fritz”
If we never had any snow?

(The Big List entry doesn’t mention this possibility.)

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Posted: 19 March 2018 08:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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From Etymology on Line: https://www.etymonline.com/word/Fritz

German familiar form of masc. proper name Friedrich; as a characteristic name for a German attested by 1883; very common in World War I. Phrase on the fritz “inoperative, not working properly” (1903) is American English slang, of unknown connection to the name; the earliest references suggest a theatrical origin.

From Collins Dictionary: https://www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/fritz

Ger, nickname for Friedrich: orig. meant a German; current sense in allusion to cheap German goods exported to U.S. before WWI

[ Edited: 19 March 2018 08:25 AM by Eyehawk ]
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Posted: 19 March 2018 10:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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As Goranson says:

several early usages of the phrase were spelled as “on the friz”; and both “on the friz” and “on the fritz” were often spelled without any capital F.

The German nickname is of course an obvious guess from the current spelling, but it’s also pretty implausible; “current sense in allusion to cheap German goods exported to U.S. before WWI” is a wild guess disingenuously presented as solid fact.

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Posted: 20 March 2018 07:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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What cheap German goods were exported to the US before WWI, just out of interest?

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Posted: 20 March 2018 12:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Some of my ancestors, I would guess, among other things.

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