I have encountered the expression fixer-upper:

A fixer-upper is a real-estate property that will require maintenance work (redecoration, reconstruction or redesign) though it usually can be lived in as it is.

But why is it called fixer-upper? I imagine the expression means that ‘fixing’ will ‘up’ the value of the property, but does it relate to other similar expressions with the same double-word construction?

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    There's shaker-upper (someone who shakes things up), which is common enough to get into Wiktionary, and I believe there are a number of other similar expressions in informal use in the U.S. Sep 22, 2012 at 21:14

2 Answers 2


My first guess is that it's because the property needs to be fixed up or requires a "fixer-upper", i.e., somebody who can fix it up. Phrase Finder suggests something similar:

What we now think of as a 'fixer-upper' comes to us from the USA as a colloquial term for 'something that needs fixing up'. The first mention of this in print appears to be an advertisement for a house, in The Los Angeles Times, October 1948:

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Prior to that coinage, a 'fixer-upper' was 'a person who fixes things'.

Under 'Origin', reference.com simply states:

fix up + -er , pleonastically suffixed to both words


The phrase fix up means

to clean, repair, or decorate something:

They take old furniture and fix it up.

I'm going to fix up the house before my mother-in-law arrives.

The term fixer-upper refers to

A house or other dwelling that is badly in need of repair, usually for sale at a low price.

A fixer-upper is a house that needs to be fixed up.

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