late 14c., "set (one's eyes or mind) on something" (a figurative use), probably from Old French verb *fixer, from fixe "fixed," from Latin fixus "fixed, fast, immovable; established, settled," past-participle adjective from figere "to fix, fasten, drive, thrust in; pierce through, transfix," also figurative, from PIE root *dheigw- "to pierce, stick in;" hence "to fix, fasten."
Sense of "fasten, attach" is c. 1400; that of "to make (colors, etc.) fast or permanent" is from 1660s. The meaning "settle, assign" evolved into "adjust, arrange" (1660s), then "to repair" (1737), but this sometimes was objected to (see below). Sense of "tamper with" (a fight, a jury, etc.) is from 1790. As euphemism for "castrate a pet" it dates from 1930. Related: Fixed; fixing.
To fix is to make fast, or permanent; to set immoveably, &c.: hence, to fix a watch, is to stop it, or prevent it from 'going;' which, it must be admitted, is a very unsatisfactory mode of repairing that article. [Seth T. Hurd, "A Grammatical Corrector; or, Vocabulary of the Common Errors of Speech," 1847]
"position from which it is difficult to move," 1809, American English, from fix (v.). Meaning "dose of narcotic" is from 1934, shortened from fix-up (1867, originally in reference to liquor). Meaning "reliable indication of the position of a ship, plane, etc." (by reference to fixed positions) is from 1902.
updated on September 24, 2019