Green’s Dictionary of Slang

fritz n.2

In phrases

on the fritz (adj.) [? German proper name Fritz and thus propagandist dislike of all things German, or fritz as onomat. for the sparking of a faulty wire or connection]

1. (also to the fritz) of a person, unhealthy, out of sorts.

‘Suppose’ in Star of Hope (Ossining, NY) Nov. 253/3: Would Santa Claus be on the ‘fritz’ / If we never had any snow?
[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ Beat It 70: They are putting all our millionaires on the fritz.
[US]B. Fisher Mutt & Jeff 3 Aug. [synd. strip] Say, your hair is a triple to the fritz — would you like a hair cut?
[US]T. McNamara Us Boys 17 Sept. [synd. cartoon strip] Hafta shake with my left [hand] [...] my right’s on the fritz.
[US]Sacramento Bee (CA) 28 Apr. 32/6: A man gets two or three times as much coin — always on the fritz.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Young Manhood in Studs Lonigan (1936) 192: Reilley wouldn’t be as hard this time, with his dukes on the fritz. [Ibid.] 320: Even if it didn’t kill you, it might make you blind, or put your heart, liver, guts or kidneys on the fritz for life.
[US]J. Weidman What’s In It For Me? 89: Your memory go on the fritz or something?
[US](con. 1920s–40s) in J.L. Kornbluh Rebel Voices.

2. (also away to the fritz) of an object, not functioning properly; thus antonym off the fritz, working; note extrapolation in cit. 1914 combining fritz with on the blink under blink n.1 .

[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ Out for the Coin 83: I catch your words, Murf, but the meaning is away to the fritz.
[US]S. Ford Torchy 309: What happened to Europe; was it on the fritz?
[US]Ade ‘The New Fable of the Aerial Performer’ in Ade’s Fables 208: The Market had gone Blooey. [...] The Whole List was on the Blinkety Fritz.
[US]Lincoln (NE) Daily News 2 Aug. 3-A: All o’ dis stuff puts de macin’ gag t’ de friz.
[US]Perrysburg Jrnl (Wood Co., OH) 22 May 2/1: It’s put this con life of our on the fritz, for fair!
[US]Ade Hand-made Fables 29–30: All the cherished plans of the respected Parents were unmistakably on the Fritz.
[US]G. Milburn ‘Everywhere You Go’ in Hobo’s Hornbook 95: Things are dull in San Francisco [...] On the fritz in Kansas City.
[US]A. King Mine Enemy Grows Older (1959) 20: He not only had one [a heart], but it was on the fritz.
[US]J. Kirkwood There Must Be a Pony! 263: Andy drove [...] to get Cecelia whose car was on the fritz.
[US]T. Berger Reinhart in Love (1963) 27: I see you got the car off the Fritz, Carlo, and thank you.
[US]L. Kramer Faggots 346: The dummy only asked for a new wrist watch. Her own had gone on the fritz.
[US]S. King Stand (1990) 1285: Our TV went on the fritz.
[Can]M. Atwood Cat’s Eye (1989) 388: The air-conditioning is on the fritz and the air on the plane is overheated.
Online Sl. Dict. 🌐 on the fritz adj 1. to be broken or to not function properly. (“My car is on the fritz again.”).
[US]T. Robinson ‘Angelo Death’ in Dirty Words [ebook] Joe opens his eyes to make sure the IV machine wasn’t going on the fritz again.
[US]J. Hannaham Didn’t Nobody Give a Shit 285: [T]he [TV] tint knob all the way up an it’s on the fritz.

3. (also fritzer) of a situation, position, job, in jeopardy.

[US]Number 1500 Life In Sing Sing 248: Fritzer. Not good.
[US]Ade Knocking the Neighbors 179: Certain Stiffs who hurried home before Midnight and wore White Mufflers, were trying to put the Town on the Fritz and Can all the Live Ones.
[US](con. 1900s) S. Lewis Elmer Gantry 177: I’ll sit down front and put his show on the fritz.

4. (also on the fritter) of machinery, broken down, not workin; also of circumstances (see cite 1915).

[US]Number 1500 Life In Sing Sing 261: I went to the coast with a mob of paper-layers, but graft was on the fritter.
[US]T. McNamara Us Boys 2 June [synd. cartoon strip] Gee but things is certainly runnin’ tough this year [...] The team’s on the fritz and — .
[US]Howsley Argot: Dict. of Und. Sl.
[US]D. Woodrell Muscle for the Wing 115: My TV’s on the fritz.
[UK]Indep. on Sun. Culture 5 Sept. 5: The car radio being on the fritz again, meant no FM reception.
[US](con. 1964–8) J. Ellroy Cold Six Thousand 195: The camera goes on the fritz [...] so the count guys can get the skim out and retally it.

5. impoverished.

[US]Ade Knocking the Neighbors 204: She married a Good Man and put him on the Fritz.
[US]N. Fleischer in Ring Nov. 10: on the fritz or on the bum—Very poor.
[UK]K. Mackenzie Living Rough 110: I can just imagine what I’ll look like in five or ten years time if I’m still on the fritz.
put on the fritz (v.) (also put on the fritzerine, put the fritz to)

to spoil, to render out of order, to put a stop to.

[US]H. Green Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 148: They ‘put it on the fritzerine for fair. [Ibid.] 359: What with me ketchin’ ’em [...] tearin’ up the bedspreads to use fur makeup towels, they’re puttin’ the place on the fritz!
[US]‘Troy Conway’ Cunning Linguist (1973) 138: My main thought had been to destroy the Transmitter. Put it on the fritz.
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Ellroy L.A. Confidential 404: You give me that and I’ll put the fritz to everything Captain Exley has.