Fix Your Wagon

Also: Fix your little red wagon. In use since at least the 1940’s.

Meaning of Idiom ‘Fix Your (or one’s) Wagon’

To fix someone’s wagon means to hurt them, get revenge on them, punish them, make them fail, etc. When said to a child, it usually means that spanking or some other form of punishment is being threatened for an infraction of the rules.


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Usage

This idiom is rarely heard today. It used to be heard in the form of “fix your little red wagon” and was often said to children.

Examples of Use

“You think you can cheat me? I’ll fix your wagon!”

“Tom,” said Dad, “You break another window and I’ll fix your little red wagon, but good!”

Origin

At first, this idiom seems to be completely unanalyzable. But, the key to deciphering it is to realize that in its earliest form to ‘fix someone’s little red wagon’ referred to spanking. The ‘little red wagon’ referred to the child’s behind and the ‘fix’ refers to the spanking. Figuratively, it means that the child or person will regret having misbehaved or offended the other person, and will hesitate to repeat it.

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