phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at


Posted by R. Berg on August 27, 2002

In Reply to: I give and I give for what? posted by Cory on August 27, 2002

: I don't have the entry. All I said was that it was in the dictionary by 1903. Does OED cite to earliest usage for every entry? That's why it is a fine dictionary. You guys are in England, right? It's your dictionary, I figured you could look it up, if you wanted. That's what I did.

: Michael Quinion says it first appeared around 1902, but he gives no other source than America.

: David Wilton states definitely that it first appeared in print in 1902, but he gives no source material either.

: Evan Morris says it appears in the 1903 OED but he gives no entry either.

: That's three different sources that date the phrase as appearing before WWI. I gave you the name of a famous book available in your neck of the woods and the date of publication (no I don't know who published it). I'm not going to read it for you.

Although this site operates from England, many of us guys* operate from way west of there. Probably more than half the people who post on this board live on the formerly undeveloped, exotic and mysterious land mass now known as North America. Miracles of modern electronics, remember?

About that reference: My OED (compact ed., a reprint of the 1st ed. plus supplements) doesn't have "Fritz" in the main section at all. It has the word in a supplement, with this definition: "German nickname for 'Friedrich' . . . Hence in War-slang used for: A German, esp. a German soldier (as typical of the German army); also, a German shell, aeroplane, submarine, etc." The first quotation is dated 1915: "D. O. BARNETT 'Lett.' 174 By that time, of course, Fritz had made himself scarce." There are three more quotations, dated 1916, 1919, and 1919. All refer to Germans, none to malfunctioning machinery.

I don't know what OED the writers cited above were using. I have only the one.

*By "guys" I mean to include the female ones like Word Camel and me. No patriarchal stereotypes were harmed in the posting of this message.

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