When something is On the Fritz, it means that it is malfunctioning or not functioning at all. Whether it’s a computer, a car, or even a blender, when things are “On the Fritz”, they are giving us trouble and causing frustration. It’s like they have a mind of their own and decide to act up at the worst possible time! You might find yourself saying, ”My car is on the fritz again!” or “My computer is definitely on the fritz.”
Example: Imagine you’re at home, ready to make yourself a delicious smoothie. You plug in your trusty blender, but as soon as you press the button, nothing happens. It seems that your blender is on the fritz, and your hopes for that refreshing smoothie are dashed.
The exact origin of the phrase “On the Fritz” is somewhat uncertain, but it is believed to have originated in the United States in the late 19th or early 20th century.
There are two different etymologies for the expression. One identifies the term “Fritz” as an onomatopoetic word, mimicing the sparking sound of a faulty wire. This is considered to be a more likely origin, as the expression has been around in American English as early as 1905.
The other etymology identifies Fritz, as the common German name at the time, which is thought to be the eponym for this phrase. This theory states that “Fritz” was a propagandistic expression during World War I, associating faulty technology with the enemy. This origin, however, is unlikely, due to the fact, that docuemented cases of “On the Fritz” can be found over a decade before the war.
It is much more likely, that “On the Fritz” was already around at the start of World War I, and was further popularized in the fields of combat.
The phrase “On the Fritz” gradually gained popularity and spread beyond the United States. It became commonly used in the English-speaking world, particularly in North America and Commonwealth countries.
As technology advanced in the 20th century, the phrase found its way into the realm of gadgets and machines that often experience malfunctions. Today, “On the Fritz” is widely recognized and used as a colloquial expression, not only in everyday conversations but also in literature, movies, and television shows, as well as music.