Learn English – Etymology of “the fix is in”


The common phrase “the fix is in” means that the outcome of an event or process has been covertly manipulated to ensure a result that would otherwise be determined by chance or a fair test of some kind.

What is the origin of this phrase?

Note: I'm interested specifically in the origin of the entire phrase, not in the etymology of the word “fix” as used within it.

Best Answer

Fix used in the sense you are referring to dates back to the 18th century:

  • Sense of "tamper with" (a fight, a jury, etc.) is from 1790.

probably from the earlier meaning :

  • "settle, assign" evolved into "adjust, arrange" (1660s), then "repair".


Ad a set phrase the earliest usage I could find is from the '40s, but earlier usages are possible:

From: Collier's, Volume 106 Crowell-Collier Publishing Company, 1940

  • ... fifteen dollars on a fight in his life. "Well, here it is," the McCoy tough guy explained. "We're from New York and you're from New York and we seen you're okay. So we're out here for the fight. On business. The fix is in and the white boy wins.

Ngram: fix is in.