What Does Putting on the Ritz Mean?

Putting on the Ritz Meaning

Definition: To dress, decorate, or do something in a fancy or expensive way.

Origin of Putting on the Ritz

This expression became popular when it was the title of a song written by Irving Berlin, in the year 1929. The expression was in use before the song, however.

The song has remained popular over the years, and its lyrics have been updated over time. It has appeared in several movies, including Young Frankenstein in the year 1974.

Nowadays, someone using this expression is just as likely to be referencing the song as calling something fancy or swanky.

Ritz refers to the famous Ritz hotels, which were very elegant and pricey. They were well known as luxury hotels at the time the song was written.  The word ritzy derives from the same hotels and means very stylish in an expensive way.

Examples of Putting on the Ritz

putting in the ritz songHere is an example of two family members using the expression while at home.

Grandmother: I saw you looking at prom dresses earlier today. Are you going to attend the dance this year?

Granddaughter: I was thinking about it, but I can’t afford a nice dress. I don’t want people to make fun of me for looking poor.

Grandmother: Nonsense! You can use one of my old dresses. If you really feel like putting on the Ritz, you can wear my antique flapper dress. It’s quite gorgeous and elegant.

Granddaughter: I’m not sure it would still be in style.

put in the ritzThe second dialogue shows a father and his daughter getting ready to attend a formal fundraiser.

Father: Why aren’t you dressed for tonight’s event yet? You can’t wear that.

Daughter: What’s wrong with wearing nice slacks and a blouse?

Father: This function is going to have all of the city’s most powerful and influential people. You need to dress to impress. I’m wearing a tuxedo. You should wear a formal gown. Remember, we’re putting on the ritz tonight!

Daughter: Fine, I’ll change.

More Examples

This excerpt is about a restaurant that will charge a high price on a holiday.

  • Olive Garden in Times Square may be a deal on a regular weeknight, but on New Years Eve, the chain is putting on the Ritz. For $400, partygoers can enjoy an Olive Garden buffet, open bars and a DJ, according to the New York Post. –USA Today

This excerpt is about fashion at the opera in New York City.

  • A night at the opera means great music, a great story — and putting on your finest. We caught up with some operagoers on their way into the Metropolitan Opera House to see “Cyrano de Bergerac” earlier this week to ask how they were putting on the Ritz. –USA Today


The idiom putting on the ritz is the name of a popular song and can mean getting all dressed up or doing something very elegant. It implies wealth as well as elegance.