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What exactly does fix mean in this context:

...a prearranged signal to Arnold Rothstein that the fix was on.

I'm from Germany and I understand to fix in this context as to doctor, to manipulate or to change.

Another reference from "The Great Gatsby":

He's the man who fixed the World's Series back in 1919.

Actually the question was raised when we had to rule out words that cannot be used together or should not be used together. One phrase was "to fix a (weather) forecast". I said "fixing it" would mean to say it's raining tomorrow although I know that the sun will be shining. My teacher didn't understand that.

The task was:

3.1 Action words for business
Verbs are the action words you need in business English. But do you know how to use them? For each verb below, pick the noun which does not typically go with it.
...
to fix
a) a time
b) a price
c) a forecast
d) a deadline
...

Is it correct? My English teacher said basically "no". But how else can you understand it?

Sources: Wikipedia, shmoop.com

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  • Seems fine to me. If your English teacher has a problem tell them to post here.
    – SGR
    Apr 20, 2016 at 14:26
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    I don't know if it's a usage change, typo, or OCR error, but almost all other writers refer to the World Series without the genetive 's. Apr 20, 2016 at 14:29
  • @SGR ok, thank you :) Actually the question was raised when we had to rule out words that cannot be used together or should not be used together. One phrase was "to fix a (weather) forecast". I said "fixing it" would mean to say it's raining tomorrow although I know that the sun will be shining. Apr 20, 2016 at 14:32
  • You're close. The fix has to do with ensuring that outcome and the prediction do not align. If, somehow, I knew it would rain tomorrow and then manipulated today's forecast so that sunshine was predicted, then bet against sunshine, you'd say "the fix was on."
    – user66965
    Apr 20, 2016 at 14:37
  • Clearly, the one word that does not belong with "fix" is C, a forecast. Again, it might apply in the rare (and perhaps purely hypothetical) case of a bogus forecast being used to fool people into thinking the weather will be something other than what you know it will be, but this is a far-fetched example. "Fix" has applied to the other words has an entirely different meaning. Fix a time = decide upon or set a time; fix a price = decide on and set a price; Fix a deadline = decide on and set a deadline.
    – user66965
    Apr 20, 2016 at 14:54

3 Answers 3

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Your examples of "the fix was on" and "who fixed the World Series" use fix in a different sense than that of Question 3.1. In those sentences, it is meaning 7a from dictionary.com: "to influence the actions, outcome, or effect of by improper or illegal methods." In the question, taking a normal business sense, fix would usually have meaning 1a: "to make firm, stable, or stationary."

If we fix a time, we settle on a single agreed time.
If we fix a price, we set the price and intend not to change it.
If we fix a deadline, we commit to delivering results by a given target date.

You could also fix a forecast, in the sense that you declare this forecast to be complete and as accurate as possible and you're not going to change it further. This would be an uncommon thing to do for a weather forecast (you always get better accuracy as you get closer to the event), but it's more likely for a business forecast, where you have a planning horizon that must be met; in that case you might fix your forecast 90 days out, because that's when you have to place orders to your overseas suppliers; so in January, February, and March you adjust your forecast for July and improve it as much as possible, but at the end of March you place your orders supplies to arrive in July, and you can't change those based on improved forecasting information that you receive in mid-May.)

One other thing to note is that "price-fixing" as a phrase always means "illegally colluding with others to set a price that would normally not be viable." So you may wish to avoid "we fixed our prices" because of the possibility of misunderstanding.

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  • ok, but the question is: what is a usual business sense? business has always a dirty side... Apr 20, 2016 at 15:12
  • Most businesses don't flaunt their dirty sides and talk openly about "fixing" in the illegal sense; the primary meaning is primary for a reason. :-)
    – Hellion
    Apr 20, 2016 at 15:17
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    So, my mistake is thinking like a gangster :D Apr 20, 2016 at 15:21
  • Or like a businessman.
    – user66965
    Apr 20, 2016 at 15:26
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    Exactly my point.
    – user66965
    Apr 20, 2016 at 16:19
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"Fix" means to assure in an unscrupulous way the outcome of a contest. The White Sox, for example, were widely favored to win the World Series, meaning that gamblers could expect to collect a lot of money if they bet on the opposing team, the Cincinnati Reds, while ensuring that the White Sox would lose--much more than they would collect if they bet on the White Sox to win in legitimate fashion. So, the gamblers (Rothstein in particular) bribed several of the White Sox players to throw the Series (i.e., to lose intentionally).

Wrestling is fixed as well, but this is widely understood and provokes little outrage, because wrestling is seen as entertainment. The fixing of the World Series, the national pastime, was seen as an outrage.

Political contests are often thought to be fixed as well--Donald Trump has used this term repeatedly of late in disparanging Ted Cruz's collection of delegates in states in which he won fewer votes than Trump. The common expression is "the fix is in," meaning the game is rigged--the outcome has been assured even before the contest takes place.

Clearly, the one word that does not belong with "fix" is C, a forecast. Again, it might apply in the rare (and perhaps purely hypothetical) case of a bogus forecast being used to fool people into thinking the weather will be something other than what you know it will be, but this is a far-fetched example.

"Fix" as applied to the other words has an entirely different meaning. Fix a time = decide upon and set a time; fix a price = decide on and set a price; Fix a deadline = decide on and set a deadline. The meaning here is to "fasten (something) securely in a particular place or position."

"Fix" can also mean to repair, as in "fix the refrigerator--it's broken."

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  • so, fix is not equal to "to manipulate"? Apr 20, 2016 at 14:57
  • on this site: dict.cc/englisch-deutsch/to+fix+sth.html "to fix" is translated to the exact German word "manipulieren" which would be "to manipulate" in english. Apr 20, 2016 at 15:03
  • No, not equal, but, in the case of fixing a contest, it's related. If the White Sox and the Reds had played the World Series on a completely legitimate basis, the Sox probably would have won. You can say that Rothstein manipulated the outcome [manipulate = handle or control (a tool, mechanism, etc.), typically in a skillful manner]. In other words, his taking control of the outcome by bribing the players was a form of manipulation. To "fix" something requires manipulation, but the terms are not interchangeable. Manipulation is value-free; a fix, again, is unscrupulous, illegal, and immoral.
    – user66965
    Apr 20, 2016 at 15:05
  • Also, "to fix" something like a broken clock requires one to manipulate tools and mechanisms. However, to "fix a price" requires no manipulation. In this case, "to fix" just means to settle upon something, to put it in place. If someone's ideas are fixed, that means he will not change his mind--his ideas are settled, set in stone.
    – user66965
    Apr 20, 2016 at 15:09
  • ok, but it still conflicts with what dict.cc says... it is labelled as "colloquial" but still translates it to "manipulate". or can't I trust this site? "to manipulate in German has a negative undertone that's for sure. so, it is not value-free! Apr 20, 2016 at 15:10
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"Fixing a forecast" could mean several different things. It could mean "fix" in a cheating sense, it could mean "fix" in a repairing sense, it could mean "fix" in the sense of causing change to stop. Since it's so ambiguous, using "fix" in reference to a forecast is ill-advised unless there is additional context to disambiguate the usage.

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