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Whenever a child was fidgeting or moving around, my grandmother would tell them "stop ritching around!" When I used this phrase recently, my wife told me that it was not an English expression, and I was surprised that I could not find it on Google.

Is "ritching around" an English expression for a child moving around? Is it instead some Pennsylvania Dutch dialect that my grandmother picked up from learning English in Pennsylvania?

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  • Never heard it. There was a fair amount of Dutch blood in our family, on my father's side, but pretty far back, and I don't recall that any words or expressions made it through.
    – Hot Licks
    Aug 5, 2015 at 2:25
  • Could it have just been a slightly altered pronunciation of "reaching"?
    – pyobum
    Aug 5, 2015 at 3:04
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    @MortimerBallsack I don't think so, but I suppose if nobody else has heard of this phrase then altered pronunciation could be a plausible explanation.
    – josliber
    Aug 5, 2015 at 3:15
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    No idea of the origin, but in my family we would have said "ooching around" (not even sure how to spell it).
    – ewormuth
    Aug 5, 2015 at 3:39
  • @ewormuth Interesting -- it seems like this is a variant on "rootching around" and probably also derives from Pennsylvania Dutch.
    – josliber
    Aug 5, 2015 at 4:46

3 Answers 3

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I live in PA, and it's a very common word among the PA Dutch (I've picked up a great many strange words and expressions from them.)

It's not quite "ritching"; the first syllable's vowel sound is more like the oo in book. So I would spell it "rootching", but, yes. It is equivalent to squirming:

a change of position that does not entail a change of location -TFD

Synonymous with fidgeting, wiggling, etc.

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  • Aha -- your pronunciation tip solved the mystery! "rootch" returns a handful of Google results like this one, indicating it's a Pennsylvania Dutch word meaning to squirm.
    – josliber
    Aug 5, 2015 at 4:28
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    Wow! I'm really surprised to see it online. Glad to help. Aug 5, 2015 at 4:36
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Ritching around was used in my family too! By my grandmother whose mom came from Bavaria. German roots maybe? Yes. I found the German word rutsch which can be used to mean stop sliding (rutsching) your bum around.

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never heard of it myself. I would say quit flailing about

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  • I think a more direct translation of how she used it was "quit moving around" (aka the action could be less significant than flailing). I guess with this question I'm most interested in whether "ritching around" is an expression.
    – josliber
    Aug 5, 2015 at 2:26

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