aboveboard / above board / above-board

Discuss word origins and meanings.
Post Reply

aboveboard / above board / above-board

Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue Jul 23, 2013 7:18 pm

<2013 “Investigators in Rome are combing through the 19,000 accounts held by the Vatican's bank in search of money laundering and other crimes, in a long-delayed attempt to clean up the institution's tarnished reputation. The multi-national team of specialists is drawing up an anti-money laundering rule book for the bank's 112 employees, hauling its financial regulations into the 21st century and making sure relations with other banks are above board.”—Daily News & Analysis (Mumbai, India), 22 July> [[Something had to be done. It was embarrassing having all that money hanging out to dry (after laundering) on clotheslines crisscrossing the Vatican.]]

ABOVE BOARD / ABOVE BOARD / ABOVE-BOARD adverb [1594], adjective [1648]: Without deceit or trickery; in full view; straightforward; legitimate; honest; on the level; on the up-and-up

Etymology: Originally a gambling term referring to the fact that a gambler whose hands were above the board or gaming table could not engage in trickery, such as changing cards, below the table.

And here I imagined it was originally a nautical term. (>:) Well, it could have referred to playing cards aboard a ship? (<:)

The following quotes are from the Oxford English Dictionary and archived sources:
<1664 “They would have dealt above-board, and like honest men.”—A Modest Enquiry into the Mystery of Iniquity by H. More, ix. page 27>

<1788 “All that is in this transaction is fair and above-board.”— Speech Against W. Hastings in Edmund Burke Works (1822), XIII. page 293>

<1878 “ If I can't make my money fair, square, and above board, I'll live and die a poor man.”—Insured at Lloyd’s by T. A. Palmer, i. i. page 12>

<1959 “The important thing is that the whole matter was entirely above board.”—Words and Things (1960) by E. Gellner, page 261>

<1986 “It takes several years of determined effort, some of it not strictly aboveboard, for Richards finally to arrest and bring to trial Tibbetts and three fellow outlaws.”—Chicago Sun-Times (Illinois), 30 August>

<1998 “Now professional lobby firms are rearing their heads, assuring all their activities will be above board and strictly regulated in Edinburgh. Old habits die hard.”—Daily Mail (London), 22 January>

<2007 “He plans to launch an internet dating service - dating, you hear; all above board - and hopes to get a publishing deal for his racy memoir, Sex Sells: The Legend of Jason Itzler.”—The Independent (London), 15 January>

<2013 “Cheng maintains he has no information to give prosecutors because all his dealings with city officials have been aboveboard, . . .”—Washington Post (D.C.), 29 June>

Ken G – July 23, 2013

Re: aboveboard / above board / above-board

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Tue Jul 23, 2013 9:05 pm

Ken Greenwald wrote:aaa
And here I imagined it was originally a nautical term. (>:) Well, it could have referred to playing cards aboard a ship?

Of course - famously deck-hands (the crew), while the officers stuck to their bridge.

Post Reply