Fair and square

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The phrase fair and square has been in use at least since the early 1600s. We will examine the meaning of the expression fair and square, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Fair and square describes something that is honest, fair, straight forward, something that is on the up and up. Often the term fair and square is used to describe the veracity of a contest, game or sporting event. In Britain, fair and square is sometimes used to mean in a totally accurate manner. The word square has long had the definition of honest or straight forward, derived from the French word esquarre meaning honest or straight forward. For this reason, the expression fair and square is actually a tautology. A tautology is a phrase or idiom in which the same idea is expressed twice using different words. The earliest known use of the phrase fair and square was in an essay written by Francis Bacon called Of Prophecies, written in 1604: “Faire, and square. The gamester calls fooles holy-day.”


And out came Bisping, who’d been cast as an unlikely champion despite him having earned his way to the top — he did knock out Luke Rockhold, fair and square on the jaw, to grab ahold of the belt he’d so long coveted. (The Washington Post)

“He has worked in this business for many years, that’s why he got the job, fair and square.“ (The Guardian)

Was he hoping she would come home, realize someone had taken over her life and conclude she had been replaced fair and square? (The Journal & Courier)

But it was Hillary who was trying to kneecap Trump, even after he licked her, fair and square, in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan and other blue states. (The New York Post)

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