I'm looking for the origin of the expression: "fixing someone's wagon".

As in:

Alice, with malice on her face, exclaimed "Maybe some hijinks will teach that scoundrel!"

Bob rolled his eyes and sarcastically responds, "Yea, that'll really fix his wagon!"

I've found here and here that it's basically about bringing someone their downfall, but why?

I love the phrase, but I can't figure out how "fixing someone's wagon" equated to ruining their chances of success, or bringing about their downfall, etc.? Were wagon mechanics particularly malicious?


There seems to be an extended metaphor surrounding the phrase that I don't quite get. The very earliest references refer to badly behaving women, with various other references to transportation alongside the wagon bit.

Here's an early and surprising example from the 1945 Congressional Record, Vol 91, part 7, p8893 That appears to talk about spiking an election. enter image description here

Now we're gettin somewhere - I'm gonna fix your wagon, copywrite 1937.

enter image description here

Gil Rodgers' version of the song: https://youtu.be/uYfC9yya1i0

1934 - All the Skeletons in All the Closets, by Keith Fowler, p211.

enter image description here

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  • This is the first time I have seen the word 'commuting' used pejoratively. There might well be another question lurking here. – Nigel J Jan 10 '18 at 16:13

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