on the fritz

being broken


on the fritz = kaputt (z.B. Maschinen oder Anlagen)



“Twitter goes ON (THE) FRITZ, again; Musk cutbacks fingered. Twitter is experiencing a bevy of glitches as links stop working, some users are unable to log in, and images are not loading for others.”

The Times of Israel — Headline (6th March 2023)

ON-THE-FRITZ sensor grounds Atlantis until next year NASA. Official says Atlantis will not blast off until at least January 2. Two of the cut-off sensors failed during pre-flight testing Thursday.”

CNN - Technology News

Did you

on the fritz
idiom (US)

- not working in the usual way or not working at all

- a state of disorder or disrepair

Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms / Merriam-Webster


The phrase is now a common American expression meaning that some mechanism is malfunctioning or broken: “The washing machine’s on the fritz again” (the British and Australian equivalent would be “on the blink”).

However, when it first appeared — around 1902 — it meant that something was in a bad way or bad condition. Early recorded examples refer to the poor state of some domestic affairs, the lack of success of a stage show, and an injured leg.

Some people, have suggested it might be an imitation of the “pffzt” noise that a faulty connection in an electrical machine might make, or the sound of a fuse blowing. This theory falls down because none of the early examples is connected with electrical devices, and the phrase pre-dates widespread use of electricity anyway.

The Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins suggests a comic origin, from the comic strip called 'The Katzenjammer Kids'. In this, two youngsters called Hans and Fritz created lots of chaos. The strip appeared in newspapers from 1897 onwards, so the dates fit rather nicely,… but the question remains: why don’t we talk about “being on the Hans”?


- A house divided cannot stand = suggests that internal conflict leads to weakness and instability.

- A house of cards = a situation built on precarious foundations, easily collapsing into disorder.

- A spanner in the works (British) = describes an unexpected obstacle causing chaos.

- A bull in a china shop = when someone clumsy or disruptive enters a delicate situation.

- Fly off the handle = when someone loses their temper and causes disruption.

- Gone off the deep end = when someone loses control of their emotions or behaviour, causing chaos.

- Like a herd of buffalo = when a large group of people act in a disorganized and potentially destructive way.

- Like a cat on a hot tin roof = feeling restless, anxious, and unable to settle down, contributing to a chaotic atmosphere.

- Hitting the fan = when a negative situation intensifies and becomes chaotic.

- Go haywire = when something malfunctions or behaves erratically, leading to disorder.  

- All bets are off = when any prior plans or expectations become irrelevant due to sudden chaos.

- Pandemonium = extreme or uncontrollable noise and chaos (derived from the Roman god Pan).

- A three-ring circus = a chaotic situation with multiple things happening simultaneously, often with a sense of absurdity.  


acting up, ailing, amiss, on the blink, broken down, busted, conking out, defunct, down, dysfunctional, erratic, failing, faulty, going haywire, gone south, haywire, inoperative, kaput, malfunctioning, on the blink, out of order, out of sorts, out of whack, ON THE FRITZ, playing up, resisting commands, rogue, screwed up, shot, went belly-up, wrecked

SMUGGLE OWAD into a conversation, say something like:

“Our internet connection is ON THE FRITZ again, can you please call the IT department?”

THANKS to Sebastian for suggesting today's word!

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