Posted by ESC on October 25, 2005
In Reply to: On the Fritz posted by Ron Kellestine on October 25, 2005
: What is the derivation of the phrase, "on the Fritz?" I researched it all day and have only found a general agreement that it first appeared in 1902. Suggestions include it being based on the Katzenjammer Twins but nothing expressed with confidence. Could it have something to do with the Boer War, Yiddish...?
Here is information from the archives. Maybe someone has something new on this:
ON THE FRITZ -- Out of order; broken. Fritz is the German nickname for Friedrich and, during World War I it came to stand for Germans in general. Considering America's distaste for Germany at that time, the expression may have sprung from the notion that if there was wrongdoing, the Germans must have had a hand in it. This is speculation, however, and one must note that 'Webster's Third International Dictionary' says of the expression, 'origin unknown.'" From "The Dictionary of Cliches" by James Rogers (Ballantine Books, New York, 1985).