fixingOK, what word combines a viral road rage video and The Miriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage? Well, there’s a clip of an argument between two bikers and two angry parents, and in it one of the bikers uses the verb “fix” as only a southerner can.

This verb gets a fair bit of ink in the usage dictionary. It was noticed in the first half of the 19th century that the word was becoming more vague in America. The common meanings today of “to repair” (fix an engine) or “to prepare” (fix a meal) were not original uses. The sense of “to make permanent,” which it also still has today, was its main definition before being made more flexible and all-purpose in the United States. This happened with other verbs on this side of the Atlantic, such as “take” and “set.” (Only an American will take a nap, take a shower, and then go outside to take some pictures!)

In the southern U.S., “fix” also commonly came to mean “to get ready” or “to be about to,” as in, “Put your shoes on, ’cause we’re fixing to leave for mama’s house.” It may have become more widespread in the latter half of the 20th century, but it is definitely “fixed” in the South.

From what I can gather, what happened here is that a mother and father were angry that some bikers were driving up and down their street, so they went out to find them and tried to run them off the road. The clip starts with the truck crossing the yellow line at the biker, who then turns around to confront the truck driver and his wife. As the truck driver steps out and starts yelling at the biker, the bikers says, “Hey — hell no, you ain’t fixing to tell me s**t.”

However, it takes some practice to get the pronunciation and cadence just right. You start by changing the verb “fixing” a wee bit to “fitin'” Thus: “You ain’ fitin’ t’ tell me s**t.”  And for those who don’t know what this means, he’s saying, “You are the last person who needs to be lecturing me.”

If you want to see a longer clip, there are several versions on YouTube, some with music added. No one was seriously injured, although there’s some very harsh language (and not as interesting as “fixing”). This one was pretty good:


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