phrases, sayings, proverbs and idioms at
Home button Home | Search the website Search | Phrase Dictionary | Fair and square

The meaning and origin of the expression: Fair and square

Fair and square

What's the meaning of the phrase 'Fair and square'?

Honest and straightforward, especially of business dealings.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Fair and square'?

In the 16th century 'square' meant 'fair and honest' so 'fair and square' is tautological.

George Puttenham used that 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."

See also: the last words of Sir Francis Bacon.

Gary Martin - the author of the website.

By Gary Martin

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

Browse phrases beginning with:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T UV W XYZ Full List