What are you fixin’ to do?

Many people living in the American South are familiar with the expression fixin’ to, meaning that a person is getting ready to do something or making preparations for some type of action. And, yes, many of us are guilty of using these words, which some people consider to be substandard English. For those unfamiliar with our Southern speech,  here is an example: “Our family is fixin’ to go on vacation.”

An interesting post in the blog “Words Going Wild” tells us that fixing has an interesting history and actually dates back to the 14th century. At that time, the word fix was used to “set one’s eye or mind on something.” Someone might have said, “Although she is a employed as a laundress at the castle, Miss Cole is fixed on marrying the duke.”

Words Going Wild also states that using  fixin’ to to mean “getting ready” or “preparing” is from 18th century America.  “The Oxford English Dictionary has a citation from 1716: ‘He fixes for another expedition.’  In 1871 Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote, ‘He was fixin’ out for the voyage.’ ”

From there, Southerners adapted fix as “fixin’ to.”

With such a lofty history,  fixin’ to is hardly “substandard” and may be one of those colloquial expressions that can be charming, even if bewildering at first to those not living below the Mason-Dixon line.


1 Comment

  1. Laura Sholander |

    Thanks Lady Louise!

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