Open source programmers commonly use the term "to fix" (as in "fixing an error") to mean to correct (eliminate) an error.

Is this use of the term "to fix" common outside open source programming (both in non-open-source programming and outside programming). For example, will "fix error in theorem proof" be understandable by mathematical community?

The term "fix" first (for an non-knowledgeable) appears to mean "not to correct" the error! (because the common usage of the word "fix" is to leave something unchanged)

  • 2
    I think the term comes from “fixing” a part that has come loose. Modern meaning is that fix == repair. This is more common than using it to mean unmoving.
    – JDługosz
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 21:20

4 Answers 4


The term "to fix" is a synonym for "to repair". Your example "to fix [an] error in [a] theorem proof" would be completely understood, though it is slightly more common to hear "to correct an error in a theorem proof".

The word "fix" does not imply that something is unchanged.

EDIT: As others have rightly pointed out, there is a sense of "to fix" that means "to make constant", as in

I fixed the number of participants in the study at 100

  • 8
    In the "non-changing" sense, I think OP means something like "Assume x>t, where t is fixed", or "Fix the chair to the floor". I think OP might be more familiar with the sense in my first example if he reads lots of math and technical stuff.
    – Em.
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 18:58
  • Good catch, wasn't thinking about that sense at all.
    – noah
    Commented May 25, 2017 at 15:06

You are correct, there can be ambiguity in the meanings.


is usually used to mean correct, whereas


is used to mean immobilize.

In usage, usually additional context is usually supplied to avoid confusion, also an understanding of possible scenarios is necessary to properly understand some sentences, the entire sentence has to be read before the meaning is understood. For example,

Fix that chair down
anchor the chair so it doesn't move

This will fix all our problems.
this will solve all our problems

I fixed the bug in the program
I corrected the bug in the program

The chair is fixed to the ground
the chair is set into the ground so it doesn't move

We fixed the problem by fixing the chair to a tree.
we solved the problem by tying the chair to a tree


"Fix" is not the only word you can use to suggest that you have corrected an error. These are also possible:

Correct, rectify, solve, clean up, fix up, set right, repair.

If you haven't completely corrected the error, but instead reduced its severity or impact, you can use:

Alleviate, remedy, ameliorate, mitigate.

Each of these has a slightly different nuance (as many can refer to other kinds of damage or injury) so please research carefully before using.


The confusion here is the ambiguity and multiple usages for that particular word. There are many words like this in English, due to its inherent ambiguity.

To be explicit, the definition of the word "fix" is as follows:


  1. fasten (something) securely in a particular place or position. (Most likely, this is a shortening of the word "affix").

Example: "fix the clamp on a rail"

Synonyms: fasten, attach, affix, secure.

  1. direct one's eyes, attention, or mind steadily or unwaveringly toward.

Example: "I fixed my attention on the tower"

  1. mend; repair. (the particular case you're referring to)

Example: "you should fix that shelf"

Synonyms: repair, mend, put right, put to rights, get working, restore (to working order)

  • do the necessary work to improve or adapt something, i.e., "we want to fix up the house before we sell it".
  • make arrangements for (something); organize, i.e., "he's sent her on ahead to fix things up". Synonyms: provide, supply, furnish
  • (informal) restore order or tidiness to (something, especially one's hair, clothes, or makeup), i.e., "Laura was fixing her hair". Synonyms: arrange, put in order, adjust
  • (informal) prepare or arrange for the provision of (food or drink). i.e., "they were fixing him breakfast". Synonyms: prepare, cook, make, get
  • (informal) arrange for someone to have something; provide someone with something. i.e., "I'll fix you up with a room" Synonyms: provide, supply, furnish
  • (informal) arrange for someone to meet or go out with someone in order to help them establish a romantic relationship
  • (dialect) be intending or planning to do something, i.e., "you're fixing to get into trouble"

  1. decide or settle on (a specific price, date, course of action, etc.)

Example: "no date has yet been fixed for a hearing"

Synonyms: decide on, select, choose, resolve on

  • discover the exact location of (something) by using radar or visual bearings or astronomical observation, i.e., "he fixed his position"
  • settle the form of (a language)
  • assign or determine (a person's liability or responsibility) for legal purpose. i.e., "there are no facts that fix the defendant with liability"

  1. make (something) permanent or static in nature.

Example: "the rate of interest is fixed for the life of the loan"

  • make (a dye, photographic image, or drawing) permanent. i.e., "chemicals are used to fix the dye" Synonyms: make permanent, make fast, set
  • (biology) preserve or stabilize (a specimen) with a chemical substance prior to microscopy or other examination. i.e., "specimens were fixed in buffered formalin"
  • (of a plant or microorganism) assimilate (nitrogen or carbon dioxide) by forming a nongaseous compound. i.e., "lupines fix gaseous nitrogen in their root nodules"

  1. (informal) influence the outcome of (something, especially a race, contest, or election) by illegal or underhanded means.

Example: "the foundation denies fixing races"

Synonyms: rig, arrange fraudulently

  • put (an enemy or rival) out of action, especially by killing them. i.e. "don't you tell nobody, or I'll fix you good!". Synonyms: get one's revenge on, avenge oneself on, get even with, get back at, take reprisals against, punish, deal with; sort someone out

  1. (informal) take an injection of a narcotic drug

  1. castrate or spay (an animal); neuter

Example: "I just got my cat fixed."

Synonyms: castrate, neuter, geld, spay, desex, sterlize


  1. (informal) a difficult or awkward situation from which it is hard to extricate oneself; a predicament.

Example: "how on earth did you get into such a fix?"

Synonyms: predicament, plight, difficulty, awkward situation, corner, tight spot.

  1. (informal) a dose of a narcotic drug to which one is addicted.

Example: "he hadn't had his fix"

Synonyms: dose, hit

  • a thing or activity that gives a person a feeling of euphoria or pleasure and that it is difficult to do without. i.e., "that rush of adrenaline that is the fix of the professional skydiver"

  1. a measure taken to resolve a problem or correct a mistake; a solution or remedy

Example: "representatives trying to find cheap fixes to meet their obligations

Synonyms: solution, answer, resolution, way out, remedy, cure, placebo

  1. a position determined by visual or radio bearings or astronomical observations

  1. (informal) a dishonest or underhanded arrangement.

Example: "obviously, his appointment was a fix"

Synonyms: fraud, swindle, trick, charade, sham

  • you seem to have a few verbs listed in the "nouns" section. (3,4,5 and 6)
    – Brian H.
    Commented May 24, 2017 at 11:54
  • "fixed" that problem!
    – Blairg23
    Commented May 25, 2017 at 4:43

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