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On the Fritz & cat tossing

Posted by ESC on August 27, 2002

In Reply to: On the Fritz posted by moo on August 27, 2002

: Check out this article for my conjecture about "On the Fritz".

: General Werner von Fritsch was an accused homosexual during Hitler's reign of terror. It is possible that, somehow, the news migrated to USA. I have heard this used by my parents and others in our area for as long as I can remember (I live in Maryland, near the city of Baltimore.) And also, by nature of Baltimoreans not being very adroit at German, the "sch" was replaced with a "z". Hence, "the computer is on the fritz" means that it is behaving abnormally.

: I realize that I have little evidence to back up my claim, but if anyone has any other suggestions I welcome them.

: On a side note, if anyone knows anything about middle-eastern culture, I have been wondering about this one for quite awhile: what is the significance of the popular Turkish phrase which effectively translates out to "It's so crowded that you couldn't toss a cat!", and why do they specifically refer to the action of tossing a feline?

From the archives:

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).