The Meaning and Origin of the Expression: Fair and Square
Honesty and straightforwardness, especially in regards to business dealings.
In the 16th century, the word ‘square’ literally meant ‘fair and honest.’ ‘fair and square’ is reiterative and became used commonly to convey honest and straightforward deals.
George Puttenham used this meaning of square in The arte of English poesie, 1589:
“[Aristotle] termeth a constant minded man – a square man.”
Francis Bacon’s essay Of Prophecies, 1604 is the first known use of ‘fair and square’:
“Faire, and square. The gamester calls fooles holy-day.”
“The red team won the game fair and square.”
“I just don’t want you claiming later that I didn’t beat you fair and square.”
Banks, Russell AFFLICTION (1990)
“Harrison won the contract fair and square, without doing anyone any favors.”
RELATED HISTORICAL PHOTOS:
Presidential candidates in 1860 – the last election before the Civil War: Abraham Lincoln – Republican party; John C. Breckinridge – Southern half of the Democratic party; and Senator Stephen A. Douglas – Northern half of the Democratic party. Lincoln became known as “Honest Abe” because of his fair business dealings and debates with other politicians. (csmonitor.com)
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