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Fast and Loose

Posted by Tim Chandler on October 13, 2000

Can anyone verify this origin for the phrase "fast and loose" or "to play fast and loose" - one meaning nowadays,
at least, to be duplicitous and not straightforward:
It comes from the days of the longbow in England when one of the laws in existence in effect forgave a
practicing archer from being held liable to any wounds caused from his arrows while he was shooting
at the practice butts. It was common to use the phrase "Hold fast!" or merely, "Fast!" to warn an archer
not to shoot, that there was someone still downrange. So the origin of the phrase "fast and loose" came
from the act of calling "Fast!" and then releasing or loosing an arrow anyway, to play "Fast and Loose"
thus describing an untruthful or unscrupulous person.