Green’s Dictionary of Slang

square adj.

1. of a thing, honest, truthful, fair [prior use SE from 16C].

implied in square deal
[UK]Etherege Love In A Tub II iii: Upon my word a very fair square play.
[UK]T. Brown Amusements Serious and Comical in Works (1744) III 60: Assisting the frail square dye with high and low fullams, and other napping tricks.
[UK]T. Lucas Lives of the Gamesters (1930) 226: The Barrister had square dice, and threw them always himself.
[UK]Worcester Herald 26 Dec. 4/3: Make square, make all right.
[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 66: Oh! thunder me flat! mangle my brain box! if I’m cracking a cross whid, its all square, so help me say so!
[UK]Kendal Mercury 17 Apr. 6/1: I told him it vas no go, for I vas up to slum, and vouldn’t be gammon’d, and if he vanted to cly my tin, he vould have to do the square (honest) thing and no fudge.
[US]Congressional Globe 17 Dec. Appendix 108: It was a square, straight-out, unsullied democratic victory.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor (1968) I 219: The patterer [...] took the gentleman (who promised a sovereign if everything was square) through innumerable and intricate windings.
[US]J.D. McCabe Secrets of the Great City 385: In a first-class house, the visitor is sure to meet men who will deal fairly with him; and if he loses, as he is almost sure to do, it is because he is playing against more expert hands than himself. This is what is called a ‘square game.’ Everything is open and fair, and the bank relies on the fickleness of the cards and the superior skill of its dealer.
[US]Dodge City Times 22 Sept. in Miller & Snell Why the West was Wild 325: Being convinced that they had not done exactly the square thing, Mr. Wright sent Under-Sheriff Masterson to overhaul them.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Robbery Under Arms (1922) 34: It [i.e. crime] makes a coward of every man who doesn’t lead a square life.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 26 July 12/2: [T]he fact being that His Honor had always tried to do the square thing, but had been celebrated for a darned snappy temper – mainly caused by ill-health.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 15 Dec. 162: Ye’ll have no reason to be sorry for taking service with Peter Brown. He’ll always do the square thing.
[US]C. Connors Bowery Life [ebook] His game wuz known ter be de squarest in Chinatown, an’ no wun wuz ever trimmed by him.
[US]H. Hapgood Types From City Streets 311: We always look up his kid or his pal, and do the square thing.
[US](con. 1900s) S. Lewis Elmer Gantry 63: None of his business if I come out and do the fair square thing!
[US]J. Callahan Man’s Grim Justice 197: The coppers had me ‘right’. The job in — was ‘a square rap’ (The police had the goods on me).
[US]N. Algren Man with the Golden Arm 174: Who’d give him a square count?
[UK]Wodehouse Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit 157: I always like, if I can, to do the square thing by one and all.
[UK]Wodehouse Much Obliged, Jeeves 6: Making him wish to do the square thing by the young master.
[US]A.K. Shulman On the Stroll 54: The only square jobs he could land were porter in a peep show or straight messenger boy.

2. of a person, honest, respectable, upright.

[UK]Lex. Balatronicum n.p.: Square. Honest, not roguish. A square cove, i.e. a man who does not steal, or get his living by dishonest means.
[UK]Vulgarities of Speech Corrected.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 11 Oct. 57/4: ‘I cannot endure to see a ‘square’ man and a fine fellow blasted for my offences’.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 26 Feb. 1/4: Me? me a square un, vy I’d be topped first.
[UK]Dickens Bleak House (1991) 543: I am so persuaded that your own good sense and right feeling, miss, will — will keep you as square as possible.
[US]N.Y. Trib. 12 Feb. 3/2: The square gambler abhors the ‘skinner’.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 90/1: I knew well on stating that no ‘square’ man would have anything to do with it.
[UK]J. Greenwood Seven Curses of London 103: They consider themselves better than many ‘square’ (honest) people who practise commercial frauds.
[UK]Besant & Rice Golden Butterfly II 90: You’ve hoed your row like a square man.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 7 Feb. 7/1: As the eldest, Jove stuck to the heavens for his share, / And made Juno his wife as he thought her quite square.
[US]G. Devol Forty Years a Gambler 65: What would I give if I was a square man, and how happy I could be with such a woman as my wife.
[US]S. Crane Maggie, a Girl of the Streets (2001) 65: Pete’s a square fellah, he is. He never goes back on a friend.
[Aus]Clipper (Hobart, Tas.) 1 May 6/2: You could twig the gurl are square, / And pure as any gurl could be.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 29 Nov. 31/1: ‘Out of quod, blokey!’ / ‘Yes, Josser! Lend us a few bob.’ / ‘Strike me --- blind! Is that wot you take a bloke from a winning seat for? Y’ve got a blanky face on yer! But I’ll put you on to a crook ----’ / ‘I’m going square,’ said Mick, weakly. / ‘Oh, Hell! Go to the bloomin’ Harmy! I ain’t got nothing for your sort. And you’ve crooked my luck, too, blast yer!’.
[US]F. Hutchison Philosophy of Johnny the Gent 36: Just show one of them square guys where he can [...] get somethin’ for nothin’ or skin someody out of some dough, and he'll take to the proposition like a barrel-house bum to a free lunch.
[UK]Gem 23 Sept. 14: I’ve said that Lumley-Lumley is fair and square, and I trust him all along the line.
[Aus]E. Dyson Spats’ Fact’ry (1922) 26: It’s up to us t’ do the square thing be square girls.
[US]Tomahawk (Becker Co., MN.) 19 Oct. 3/6: Poggy’s been square, if not friendly.
[UK]P. Marks Plastic Age 324: She certainly had been square all right.
[US](con. 1910s) J.T. Farrell Young Lonigan in Studs Lonigan (1936) 58: They’re square and decent, and not rats like those guys.
[US]H. Asbury Sucker’s Progress 247: There were a few gamblers [...] who were notorious among the sharpers as ‘square players;’ they depended upon luck and skill rather than trickery and dishonesty.
[Aus]K. Tennant Foveaux 52: You was always square to me. I know you wouldn’t go back on me.
[US]O. Strange Sudden Takes the Trail 84: Oh, Dutch is square.
[US]J. Jones From Here to Eternity (1998) 616: I know he’s the squarest, straightest, fairest joe I ever met in my life.
[UK]F. Norman Fings II i: They were a couple of square swedes.
[UK]Guardian 4 Apr. n.p.: Sally turned up to take photographs in the black leather jacket she uses to cover Fascist demonstrations. It was no use. ‘That girl’s square,’ said a voice as she picked her way past the benchfuls of Rockers.
[US]N. Heard Howard Street 46: She saw him sitting in the Howard Bar talking to a woman, a square chick.
[US]D. Goines Street Players 8: Let’s call up some square bitches.
[UK]J.J. Connolly Layer Cake 12: Very straight, square birds were downing Es at a rate of knots and getting chopped, fucked in khazis.
[US](con. 1973) C. Stella Johnny Porno 165: You’re like the one square cop I ever met.

3. (UK/US Und.) dependable, honest; as sense 1 but from a criminal standpoint.

[UK]H. Smith Gale Middleton 1 149: Come, come, my kiddies [...] this is to be a square concern [...] so we’ll share as we go.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 148/1: Thinking that Elephant and Castle would be as square a ‘drum’ as we could find in town [...] we went there.
[US]G.P. Burnham Memoirs of the US Secret Service 191: Let the bearer have all the stuff he wants. He’s square and all right.
[UK]Dundee Courier (Scot.) 1 Feb. 7/3: At some ‘doss-cribs’ they’d round on us to the police about the ‘spuds’ I collared; but they’re square here.
[US]J. Flynt World of Graft 120: He was a square bloke, an’ he had a job he’d like to double up with him on.
[UK]Marvel III:58 19: They reckons a feller as leads ’em, takes a slice of the swag, and then keeps outen it all an’ don’t run no risk o’ being lagged, arn’t quite square.
[US]G. Bronson-Howard Enemy to Society 37: Learn some good, square graft and stick to it.
[US]Dos Passos Three Soldiers 399: ‘He ain’t a white man, Ah’ll wager that,’ said Chris, ‘but he’s square.’.
[US]Ade Old-Time Saloon 144: A consistent policy was to ‘fix’ the ‘harness bull’ on the beat, the theory being that any policeman who was a square guy would not bite the hand that was feeding him.
[US]D. Runyon ‘Butch Minds the Baby’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 346: Spanish John [...] seems to be a very square guy.
[US]J. Thompson Getaway in Four Novels (1983) 89: Heard a thing or two to the contrary, but you was always square with me an’ mine.

4. (US) substantial.

[UK]F. Whymper Travel and Adventure in Alaska 310: A ‘square’ drink is a ‘deep, deep draught,’ and a good ‘square fight’ is an encounter or ‘muss’ where the opponents were in earnest.

5. (US) of a drink, unadulterated by water.

[US]R.F. Burton City of the Saints 545: We were asked to join him in a ‘squar’ drink,’ which means spirits without water [...] Of these ‘squar’ drinks’ we had at least four.

6. (Aus.) safe.

[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 45/1: When you are sure all is ‘square,’ make for the jeweller’s— in a round-about way.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘The Stoush O’ Day’ in Songs of a Sentimental Bloke 27: Like some crook keekin’ o’er a winder sill / To make dead cert’in everythink is square.

7. (also squared) sorted out, dealt with, settled, even.

[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 20 Mar. 3/1: What’s the odds, it’s all square now—’twas all in our lagging.
[UK]Dickens Bleak House (1991) 316: It’s all squared, you see, as I squared it myself, sir.
[US]J.R. Lowell Biglow Papers 2nd series (1880) 26: Ef you’ll just ondertake the care / Upon a mod’rit sellery, we’ll up an’ call it square.
[UK]E. Yates Broken to Harness II 149: It’s all squared already.
Wkly Kansas Chief (Troy, KS) 30 Jan. 1/1: ‘All square between us?’ ‘Yes, if you’re willing’.
[UK]J. Greenwood Odd People in Odd Places 12: Your five bob and another eighteen pence, and I’m squared for a start on my hook.
[US](con. c.1840) ‘Mark Twain’ Huckleberry Finn 73: Ef I could git de ten cents back, I’d call it squah, en be glad er de chanst.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 17 Jan. 13/4: Sun Chong planked down the cash, and […] yelled out: ‘Well, I’m d—d! […] How fashion this? My no sabe. Inglish man catchee planty whisky allee week, planty lie, planty steal, then go long ’im God’s house Sunday makee all square. My no sabe that, too.’.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 8 Dec. 152: I’ll see that it’s made all square with the boss.
[US]F. Hurst ‘Even As You And I’ in Humoresque 292: I’ll make it square with you.
[US]‘Digit’ Confessions of a Twentieth Century Hobo 85: You pay the exes out of the cash and we’ll call it square.
[US]J. Lait Gangster Girl 99: When you come along with the dough okay and square, the girl will be there.
[Aus](con. 1830s–60s) ‘Miles Franklin’ All That Swagger 176: To make matters square, though I have the evidence and the witnesses, I’ll lay no charge against you – this time.
[US]N. Algren Man with the Golden Arm 26: ‘Call it square, Frankie?’ [...] ‘All square.’.
[US]H. McCoy Corruption City 20: I’m square with you.
[WI]V.S. Naipaul A House For Mr Biswas 450: All fair and square now.
[US](con. 1920s) J. Thompson South of Heaven (1994) 153: Telling about getting square with Four Trey.
[US]E. Bunker Animal Factory 85: That other mess is square.
[UK]J. Sullivan ‘The Miracle of Peckham’ Only Fools and Horses [TV script] Is that it then. All squared?
[US](con. 1986) G. Pelecanos Sweet Forever 253: Then you and me are square on this.
[UK]I. Welsh Filth 95: That’s us square hen, till the next time.
[Aus]P. Temple Black Tide (2012) [ebook] The question you want to ask, Tony, is this: am I better off square with the Armits and onside with Bren, or one-sixty deep and offside with Bren?

8. sober.

[UK]J. Runciman Chequers 37: There ain’t nobody so nice and hearty as he is when he’s square.
[US]P. Crump Burn, Killer, Burn! 296: We can’t go with a square head [...] let’s see what kinda firewater we can raise.

9. (Aus.) of a woman, ostensibly respectable but occasionally indulging in extra-marital or commercial sex.

[Aus]Truth (Perth) 9 Sept. 5/4: [heading] Redlight Quarter not the Source of Infection. ‘Square’ Tarts and ‘Love Birds’ the Real Offenders .

10. correct, real.

[US]D. Runyon ‘The Bloodhounds of Broadway’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 90: No matter what name a guy has, it is not his square name.
[US]D. Runyon Runyon à la Carte 114: Her square monicker is really Magnolia Shapiro.
[US]A.J. Liebling Honest Rainmaker (1991) 64: He sold his name [...] to a disciple whose square name was Boasberg.
[US]W. Burk Thief 335: His square moniker was Richard, but everyone called him Murf.

11. (orig. US black) conventional, conservative, naïve, dull.

[UK]W.S. Walker In the Blood 106: His ‘square-clobber’ or respectable clothes.
[US](con. 1900s–10s) Dos Passos 42nd Parallel in USA (1966) 94: Mac decided he was a squarelooking stiff.
[US]M.H. Boulware Jive and Sl. n.p.: Square hick ... Country boy.
[US]H.S. Thompson letter 12 Nov. in Proud Highway (1997) 140: For to be excited is to be square ... and to be square is to be hung up ... and that is nowhere either.
[US]R. Gover One Hundred Dollar Misunderstanding 64: He so fuggin square his head got corners.
[UK]B. Reckord Skyvers I i: No girl will ’ave nothin’ to do with you ’cos you’re square as ’ell, and next time you touch me I’ll ’ave your bloody eyes.
[US]E. Bunker Animal Factory 31: He looked as square as Paul looked hip.
[UK]T. Blacker Fixx 47: Gentlemanliness [...] It’s a bit old-fashioned isn’t it — a bit square?
[UK]Observer Screen 25 July 5: O’Donnell’s squarer-than-thou image was an anachronism in the Nineties.

12. (US black campus) cheap.

[US]M.H. Boulware Jive and Sl.

13. heterosexual.

[UK]C. MacInnes City of Spades (1964) 273: ‘You hope to have some pleasant treatment from me one day that never come?’ ‘Oh, no, Johnny, I know you’re square.’.
[US] in S. Harris Hellhole 60: Homosexual prisoners use force in order to ‘make square women.’ [Ibid.] 218: My father was always [...] trying to turn me square.

In derivatives

squaredom (n.)

(orig. US) the world of the unsophisticated, the unworldly; the state of being in that world.

[US]New Yorker 35:2 72: [He] edits a little magazine of protest but wears, from the outset, clothes so well cut that you can tell he is doomed to ultimate squaredom.
[US]S. Greenlee Spook who Sat by the Door (1972) 27: He [...] decided that the strain of squaredom would have to be eased somehow from time to time.
N. Mailer Of a Fire on the Moon (1971) 35: Collins’ implacable cheerful cool, Aldrin’s doughty monk’s cloth of squaredom.
[US]Atlantic Mthly 229 44: A special segment of squaredom, the angry squares— the disaffected middle-class and lower-middle-class voters, who are furious at the radical young.
J. Stacy Rockin’ Reels 87: He returns to squaredom. But when he is again poised at the altar with his conventional bride, he again bolts for the street.
Film History 6 360: [The] self-righteous squaredom of voice-of-authority lawman Jay C. Flippen.
P. Simpson Rough Guide to Cult Pop 302: The second most popular artist of the 1950s (after Elvis), [Pat] Boone epitomised squeaky-clean squaredom.
G. Tate 299 Days [ebook] She grew up in the 1950s and early 1960s, was raised by ‘squares,’ rebelled against all that was official American squaredom in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
squareness (n.)

1. honesty.

[US]J. London Valley of the Moon (1914) 83: It’s a dirty world – an unfair, lousy world. [...] They’s no squareness in it.
Nambour Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser (Qld) 27 June 10/5: He’s measured by his justice, right; his fairness at his play, his squareness in all his dealings made, his honest, upright way.
[US]T. Thursday ‘Twin Lose or Draw’ in Popular Sports Spring [Internet] I want to thank you, Mr. Delaney, for your squareness [...] you have been darn white to me.

2. (orig. US black) conventionality, dullness.

[US]H. Ellison ‘Have Coolth’ in Gentleman Junkie 128: Once upon a when, Derry Maylor had been cool. But that was past [...] He had taken to squareness.
[US]‘Hy Lit’ Hy Lit’s Unbelievable Dict. of Hip Words 9: clyde – The ultimate handle for the ultimate in squareness.
[US]J. Stahl Permanent Midnight 55: The mid-America beehive-and-poly-blend beyond-squareness of [...] just plain folks.
squaresville (n.) [square n. (3b) + -ville sfx1 ]

1. (US black/teen) a conventional and thus boring place, person or event.

[US]‘Curt Cannon’ ‘Now Die In It’ in I Like ’Em Tough (1958) 57: I gathered he was from Squaresville.
[UK]R.A. Norton Through Beatnik Eyeballs 21: Had these platters from Squaresville, like the ‘Gay Gordons’ and such.
[Aus]B. Oakley Salute to the Great McCarthy 1: I walk down the street [...] home, safe back in Squaresville after two enormous years.
[US]S. King It (1987) 933: Baseball was strictly Squaresville.

2. attrib. use of sense 1.

Motion Pic. 47 71: ‘Don't you know how to kiss a girl tenderly? Try it again. This time without the squaresville trimmings.’ I was shocked. The man had called me a square!
[UK]Guardian Guide 10–16 July 10: Yet the squaresville suity doors slam in their face for 10 years.
[US]J. Ellroy ‘The D.A.’ in Destination: Morgue! (2004) 150: He was the Man. Some squaresville youth version.

In compounds

square affair (n.) (also square bit, square piece) [SE affair/bit n.1 (2a)/piece n. (1a)]

one’s regular girlfriend.

[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Billy’s “Square Affair”’ in Roderick (1967–9) I 225: He would turn respectable, and wed a ‘square affair’.
[UK](con. WWI) Fraser & Gibbons Soldier and Sailor Words 268: Square Bit: A sweetheart: A ‘Best Girl’ [...] Square Piece: A respectable young woman.
square article (n.)

(UK Und.) anything one has purchased or otherwise acquired honestly.

[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 268: square: Any thing you have bought, or acquired honestly, is termed a square article; and any transaction which is fairly and equitably conducted, is said to be a square concern.
square-ass (adj.) (also square-assed) [-ass sfx/-assed sfx]

(US black) unsophisticated, naïve, ‘straight’; also as n., a ‘straight’ person.

[US]H. Simmons Corner Boy 147: This is a square-assed town.
[US]S.A. Williams ‘Tell Martha Not to Moan’ in Cade Black Woman (1970) 50: Lord deliver me from a square-ass town with square-ass people.
[US]D. Goines Dopefiend (1991) 80: What the fuck was you doing with that square-ass Billy?
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Airtight Willie and Me 9: Dummy up you square ass punks.
D. Dawley Nation of Lords 39: Now why should I fool with this square ass sonofabitch: ‘Fuck ya, man, I'm gone’.
O. Hawkins Midnight 87: The last thing I need hanging around me is a square-ass white boy.
C. Reel Happy Face 56: Bitches meet u on da streets den all a sudden dey want u to be dis square ass nigga.
square bloke (n.)

(US und.) in a pickpocket gang, that member to whom the stolen article is pased and who then walks ‘innocently’ away .

[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 26 Oct. n.p.: When the ‘wire’ has taken the pocketbook he passes it to the ‘coverer’ and the ‘coverer’ to the square bloke’ whose business it is to walk quickly off .
squarebrain (n.) [sfx -brain]

(US black) a conventional person, a fool, a dullard, with overtones of conservatism.

[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 19: You got [...] yo’ square brain, he don’t know wha’s happ’nin’. Don’ git high – nothin’.
square business (n.) (also square biz)

(US black/prison) honesty, truth; often affixed to a declaratory sentence as a means of emphasizing the speaker’s sincerity.

[UK]C.J.C. Hyne Further Adventures of Captain Kettle 205: She means square biz.
[US]C. Brown Manchild in the Promised Land (1969) 419: Square business, Sonny? You mean he’s a real preacher?
[US]V.E. Smith Jones Men 75: Y’all know me, man, it’s all square business.
[US]Maledicta V:1+2 (Summer + Winter) 268: The truth is square business and being straight up, as in ‘that’s straight up, brother,’ is being truthful.
[US]T.R. Houser Central Sl. 48: square business [...] ‘What I’m tellin’ you is square business.’.
[US]F.X. Toole Rope Burns 16: Ike had always told me the truth, had always done square business with me.
square concern (n.)

1. (UK Und.) anything one has purchased or otherwise acquired honestly.

[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 268: square: Any thing you have bought, or acquired honestly, is termed a square article; and any transaction which is fairly and equitably conducted, is said to be a square concern.

2. honest dealings .

[UK]H. Smith Gale Middleton 1 149: ‘Come, come, my kiddies,’ said the first spokesman, who seemed to be the leader of this little gang;‘ this is to be a square concern: we all row In the same boat’.
square deal (n.) (also square dealing) [SE deal; see Asbury Sucker’s Progress (1938): ‘An extraordinary number of the terms, technical and otherwise, which were employed by Faro players in the palmy days of the game have passed into the language [...] Square deal — Twenty-five turns in which the dealer used a pack with squared edges. With these cards the chances of a crooked deal were minimized’]

(orig. US) honest treatment, a proper business deal, a good bargain etc.

[UK]Fletcher Chances II i: Let’s have fair play, Square dealing, I would with ye.
[UK]E. Gayton Wit Revived 12: Q. Why doe Lawyers weare round caps, and not square? A. Because square-dealing would undoe them.
[US]Burlington (IA) Hawk Eye 7 Oct. 4/1: This is the man with his ‘little game,’ a ‘fair, square deal,’ with an honest name.
[US]Bismarck (ND) Trib. 26 Jan. 8/1: The minister preached how vulgar it was to use slang [...] I knew he was givin’ us the square deal.
[US]S. Crane Maggie, a Girl of the Streets (2001) 52: Oh, I say, Nellie, this ain’t a square deal, you know.
[US]Flynt & Walton Powers That Prey 48: [He] saw in his old companion the same ‘Buck’ Cober of ‘square deals’ and no ‘beefs’.
[NZ]N.Z. Truth 23 Aug. 5/7: The Labour Premier [...] promised workers a ‘square deal’.
[US]R. Lardner You Know Me Al (1984) 79: Them reporters will have to give me a square deal this time.
[US]J. Black You Can’t Win (2000) 29: If I was to be treated in this way I would [...] go away where I could get a square deal.
[US]J. Lait Put on the Spot 175: I h ope youse all got the same square deal youse give us.
[UK]G. Greene Gun for Sale (1973) 20: You girls who go travelling round never get a square deal.
[Aus]X. Herbert Capricornia (1939) 308: I wasn’t aware I’d done anything but give you a square deal always.
[US]R. Chandler Farewell, My Lovely (1949) 196: He would like someone who would see that he got a square deal.
[UK]A. Buckeridge Jennings Goes To School 37: It’s not a square deal if you bash him up now.
[UK]J. Osborne World of Paul Slickey Act II: What we need, Freddie, is a square deal.
squarehead/squareheaded

see separate entries.

square john

see separate entries.

square ken (n.)

(UK tramp) a private house whose owners are known to be generous to vagrants.

[UK]Birmingham Dly Post 31 Mar. 3/4: A couple of miles from this very lodging-house was a ‘toff-crib’ (gontleman’s house), famous as a ‘square ken’ (good house) for every one who called.
square plug (n.) [SE plug, which does not ‘fit in the round hole’ of criminality]

1. (US Und.) a ‘civilian’ who admires and mingles with criminals but lacks the courage or desire actually to commit a crime.

[US]Jackson & Hellyer Vocab. Criminal Sl.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 206/1: Square plug. See more common Square-John [i.e. ‘A workingman; one not of the underworld’].

2. (US Und.) a prisoner who is not a professional criminal.

[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 206/1: Square plug. See more common Square-John [i.e. ‘Derisive term for accidental criminals whose behavior in prison betrays their alien status in the underworld’].
square rigger/-rigged

see separate entries.

square setting (n.) [set n.2 (1b)]

(US black) a respectable party, without drugs, loud music etc.

[US]C. Cooper Jr Scene (1996) 11: My sister’s gone to square-settin with her chump.
square shooter/-shooting

see separate entries.

In phrases

get square (with) (v.)

to get even (with).

[US]W.H. Thomes Slaver’s Adventures 30: Murphy was compelled to yield to his demand, and that was the first attempt of Cringy to get square.
[UK]W.B. Churchward Blackbirding In The South Pacific 128: I always get square with my friends before I have done with them [...] His ‘getting square’ meant cutting throats; and if he didn’t lie, it would have taken a big ship to carry all the people he’d ‘squared’ up to date.
‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Nevermore 239: I’ve got square with you so far [...] I’ll be more than even with you yet.
[US]S. Crane Maggie, a Girl of the Streets (2001) 53: I’ll get square with her, you bet. She won’t get far ahead of yours truly.
[US]A. Berkman Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist (1926) 395: He lived the five years in the Joliet prison in the sole hope of ‘getting square’ with the man who had so meanly betrayed him.
[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 73: I’ll get square with you, Brockett!
on the square (also upon the square) [? Masonic jargon]

1. honest, truthful, fair.

[UK]Head Eng. Rogue I 168: Questionless ordinaries were first impartially founded, interdicting all play but which was upon the Square.
[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 268: square: In making a bargain or contract, any overture considered to be really fair and reasonable, is declared to be a square thing, or to be upon the square.
[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London I 298: [He] touch’d ’em up rare / for a thousand in Bennet Street (all on the square).
[UK](con. 1737–9) W.H. Ainsworth Rookwood (1857) 135: You pledge your word that all shall be on the square.
[UK]Dickens Martin Chuzzlewit (1995) 168: I am forced to keep things on the square if I can.
[UK]G.J. Whyte-Melville General Bounce (1891) 227: Major, there’s a screw loose here — it’s not on the square, you understand.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 9 May 3/3: John [...] seemed to fancy that all was not on the square.
[UK]T. Hughes Tom Brown’s School-Days (1896) 258: Ain’t it all on the square?
[US]B. Harte Luck of Roaring Camp (1873) 11: It ain’t my style to spoil fun, boys [...] but it strikes me that this thing ain’t exactly on the square.
[UK]Dundee Courier 13 June 7/5: Eight notes were handed over to Jerry, who gave four to Fred, saying he would act on the square.
[US]Ade Artie (1963) 85: I used to think it was n’t on the square to josh a man because he was from the country.
[UK]M. Williams Round London 24: None of your hanky panky with me [...] if he’s cheap and it’s on the square, the dawg’s mine.
[UK]Wodehouse ‘Crowned Heads’ in Man with Two Left Feet 88: Say, I’m on the level [...] You want to get that. Right on the square. See?
[US]‘A-No. 1’ From Coast to Coast with Jack London 12: You’ll find me to be reliable and strictly on the square.
[US]J. Black You Can’t Win (2000) 27: I think you’re on the square with me, and I’m going to be on the up and up with you.
[US]D. Hammett ‘The Big Knockover’ Story Omnibus (1966) 295: You’re on the square! You were white to me that time in Philly!
[UK]E. Glyn Flirt & Flapper 28: Flapper: Decent means level — on the square.
[US]M. Harris ‘Facing the Mob’ in Gangland Stories Feb. [Internet] If your proposition’s on the square, I might’s well string along.
[US]R.L. Bellem ‘Phoney Shakedown’ Dan Turner - Hollywood Detective Feb. [Internet] If all this stuff was on the square, I had a new view of the whole deal.
[US]W.R. Burnett Little Men, Big World 108: Lola says you’re going to get the kid baptized. Is that on the square?
[US]T. Thackrey Gambling Secrets of Nick The Greek 247: I know you’re strictly on the square.

2. in an honest manner, truthfully.

[UK]Dryden Sir Martin Mar-all I i: That’s the worst Game you could have played at, scarce one Woman in an hundred will play with you upon the Square.
[UK]C. Cotton Compleat Gamester 5: These Rooks can do little harm in the day time at an Ordinary, being forc’d to play upon the Square.
[UK]Behn Sir Patient Fancy II ii: Lady Fancy At Games of Love Husbands to cheat is fair, / ’Tis the Gallant we play with on the square.
[UK]Petition of the Widows in Harleian Misc. X (1810) 171: We always fought upon the square, and therefore have no reason to be ashamed of a recital.
[UK]S. Centlivre Gamester act I: She that marries a Gamester that plays upon the Square, as the Fool your Master does, can expect nothing but an Alms-house for a Jointure.
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy II 65: I am resolv’d to teach you, / To Play upon the Square.
[UK]A. Ramsay Tea-table Misc. (1733) IV 427: The true-hearted mason, who acts on the square.
[UK]Smollett Roderick Random (1979) 41: Whatsoever sleights Shuffle might practise on other occasions, he was very certain, that he had played on the square with them.
[UK]Smollett Peregrine Pickle (1964) 379: He knew himself sufficiently qualified for playing with men of honour, who deal upon the square.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Mar. XIII 337/1: I will admit you upon the square.
[UK]B.H. Malkin (trans.) Adventures of Gil Blas (1822) III 247: I shall act upon the square with you.
[Aus]Age (Melbourne) 1 Oct. 5/2: A magistrate, Mr Smith added, was obliged to be conversant with slang. It was only the other day that he had to put a policeman right, when he said ‘on the square,’ and meant ‘on the cross’ .
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 102/1: Having a numerous family [he] thought that now was the time to ‘turn up gonnoffing,’ and do something for them on the ‘square’.
[UK]Ally Sloper’s Half Holiday 31 May 35/2: I’ve cottoned to yer on the square clean through.
[US]G. Devol Forty Years a Gambler 20: It was all I could do to keep even by playing on the square with big ‘injins’.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 5 May 5/6: I am an Old Lag, and have been more or less ‘on the cross’ all my life. [...] about ten years ago I gave the crooked business best, and settled down to earning a livelihood on the square.
[US]F. Hutcheson Barkeep Stories 6: ‘On de square I was goin’ —’.
[Aus]Worker (Brisbane) 4 Sept. 8/3: A pound a hundred, ‘in or out,’ with rules and tucker fair, / He designates as ‘working white’ and shearing ‘on the square’.
[UK]‘Pot’ & ‘Swears’ Scarlet City 545: It’s better for Tabby to get money on the square than [etc.].
[US]W.J. Kountz Billy Baxter’s Letters 5: Suddenly along came a drove of ducks. On the square, there must have been a million.
[UK]J. Conrad Lord Jim 60: He was confident that, on the square, ‘on the square, mind!’ there was nothing he couldn’t meet.
[US]‘O. Henry’ ‘The Love-Philtre of Ikey Schoenstein’ in Four Million (1915) 127: Chunk, if you get the girl get her on the square.
[US]G. Bronson-Howard Enemy to Society 155: Those felluhs don’t fight on the square.
[US]W.R. Burnett Little Caesar (1932) 46: I split even on the square.
[US]R. Chandler ‘Goldfish’ in Red Wind (1946) 185: Five grand to the girl that passed me the info. She got it on the square.
[US]B. Schulberg Harder They Fall (1971) 301: This fight tonight is the first one you ever fought for me on the dead square.
[US]K. Brasselle Cannibals 216: On the square, Joey, this guy is bad news.

3. living an honest, law-abiding (and tedious) life.

[US]W. Penn in Dixon Life (1872) 207: Keep upon the square, for God sees you, therefore do your duty .
[UK]Vanbrugh & Cibber Provoked Husband V ii: Marriage is, at worst, but playing upon the Square.
[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang.
[UK](con. 1724) W.H. Ainsworth Jack Sheppard (1917) 225: We’re all on the square here.
[US]‘Ned Buntline’ Mysteries and Miseries of N.Y. IV 95: I’m going to live on the square after this, Frank!
[UK]A. Mayhew Paved with Gold 342: I’m on the square now [...] regular, straight and open.
[UK]T. Taylor Ticket-Of-Leave Man Act IV: He’s on the square, he is — bent on earning an honest livelihood.
[US] in ‘Mark Twain’ Life on the Mississippi (1914) 459: [as written] You told me if i would shake the cross (Quit Stealing) & live on the square for months, it would be the best job i ever done.
[UK]Five Years’ Penal Servitude 244: She’d been there afore, when she was living on the ‘square’.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 2 Oct. 14/1: He knew [...] that the Casey family were not living ‘on the square’.
[UK]W.E. Henley ‘Villon’s Straight Tip’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 177: Suppose you try a different tack, / And on the square you flash your flag?
[UK]H. O’Reilly Fifty Years on the Trail 364: As horse-stealing has ceased to be a virtue, the boys now ‘go it on the square’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 10 Dec. 32/4: ‘Long Jim’s a decent cove,’ said she, ‘when ’e is on the square, / An’ can shear more sheep than anyone round ’ere—’.
[US]J. Lomax Cowboy Songs 254: When I was a young man I lived on the square.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 406: The Deity ain’t no nickel dime bumshow. I put it to you that he’s on the square and a corking fine business proposition.
[US]W.R. Burnett Little Caesar (1932) 145: They all liked Jastrow, who had the reputation of being on the square.
[US]V.G. Burns Female Convict (1960) 16: What the hell is the use of trying to keep on the square in this world?
[US]N. Algren Man with the Golden Arm 205: Them whole two years on the square, I didn’t have one good time.
[US]M. Spillane One Lonely Night 45: If you spot anything that doesn’t seem to be on the square.
[Aus]K. Tennant Joyful Condemned 3: From now on I’m going to be on the square. I’m—I dunno—I’m going to change.
[UK]A. Wesker Chips with Everything I ix: Come off it, Corp – you know we’re O.K. on the square.
[US]B. Jackson Get Your Ass in the Water (1974) 74: Why don’t you play the old game on the square?
[US](con. WWII) T. Sanchez Hollywoodland (1981) 1–7: You’re offering me a fix if I’ll play it your way on the square.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 372: square John, an underworld term for a mark, especially a self-righteous person, on the square, who can be taken advantage of easily.

4. having revenged oneself, ‘even’ with someone.

[UK]Dryden Juvenal III 39: We live not on the Square with such as these.
[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 268: To threaten another that you will be upon the square with him, some time, signifies that you’ll be even with him for some supposed injury, &c.

5. having settled all debts with someone.

[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 268: To be upon the square with any person, is to have mutually settled all accompts between you both up to that moment.

6. (US Und.) trustworthy (to condone or perform illegal acts).

[UK]C. Selby London By Night I ii: Don’t disturb yourselves, my dear boys, we’re on the square – not on the cross.
[US]Bliss From Boniface to Bank Burglar in Hamilton (1952) 47: The policemen who were inclined to be ‘on the square’ with us, disappeared.
[US]J. Black You Can’t Win (2000) 94: Kid, that’s what comes of bein’ on the square. If you’d burnt Shorty for his end of that coin [...] you’d have got a beatin’ instead of a lawyer.

7. (Aus.) conducting a regular monogamous relationship.

[Aus]G. Essex Evans in Stewart & Keesing Aus. Bush Ballads (1955) 286: And she was a perfect stunner, / Tall and fair; / Every digger longed to ‘run her / On the square’.
[US]Blanche Calloway ‘Growlin’ Dan’ [lyrics] My Dan is mean, but he’s on the square, / So he told old Min to take the air.
[Aus]L. Glassop We Were the Rats 48: Aren’t ya on the square with her?
[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 281: Jimmy Brockett still liked his extra little bit of horizontal exercise on occasions but mostly I was on the square with Nan.
[US] ‘The Fall’ in D. Wepman et al. Life (1976) 85: But I wanted to be fair and on the square, / I didn’t want to buck the saw.

8. accurate.

[US]R. Lardner ‘Hurry Kane’ in Coll. Short Stories (1941) 97: Here was once that the name ‘Hurry’ was on the square. He [...] was in her room in nothing and no-fifths.
square as a billiard ball (adj.) (also square as a brick, ...a golf ball, ...a tennis ball)

(Aus.) anything but honest or ‘square’, whether morally, sexually or otherwise.

North Western Courier Narrabri, NSW 7 Feb. 4/5: I’m dead level and square as a billiard ball.
[Aus]‘No. 35’ Argot in G. Simes DAUS (1993) 192/2: square [...] (ii) Not addicted to homosexuality in any way; hence the litotes ‘square as a billiard (golf, tennis) ball’, i.e. irredeemably perverted.
square as a brick (adv.)

(US) in an exemplary manner.

[US]Green Mountain Freeman (Montpelier, VT) 2 Feb. 1/2: ‘How does it hit you?’ ‘Square as a brick. Jest the thing’.
square Jane, non nonsense (adj.)

(Aus.) orderly, lacking adornment (possibly through poverty); emotionally cold; also as n.

[Aus]Wkly Times (Melbourne) 1 Sept.6/1: ‘Cynthia!’ he gasped. ‘Jove! it’s cruel. Square Jane, and no nonsense, eh, my girl?’.
[Aus]Advocate (Melbourne) 5 Oct. 33/3: She’ll never attempt a garden, but, will let the hens scratch holes in the front yard all the week, and then sweep it clean and stark, with a square-Jane appearance, for Sunday.
[Aus]Truth (Perth) 8 Sept. 14/6: No, these lovely flowered gowns, all chic and gracefulness, are made for the rich and pampered woman, who never has to turn into a ‘square Jane, no nonsense’ unless she possesses genius.
R.S. Close in Argus (Melbourne) 3 Feb. 6/1: But it was a good car, for all that. It was my first. I called her Hortense because she had a ‘square jane, no non-sense’ look about her.
square to the wood (adj.)

(US black) extremely respectable, conservative, naïve.

[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 38: He square to d’ wood! ... Don’t get high, don’ smoke no weed.
square with (adj.)

1. honest, honourable.

[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor I 318/2: If I’ll humble myself I can have it all wiped off; and, as the song says, ‘We may be happy yet,’ because, as the saying is, it’s all square with God A’mighty.
[US]C.F. Lummis A New Mexico David 91: Thet wouldn’t be squar’ ’th the outfit. Yo’ all ’ve got’s much to say ’s I hev.
[US]J. Lait ‘Canada Kid’ in Beef, Iron and Wine (1917) 172: Dat guy ain’t got de firs’ idee about bein’ square wit’ a pal.

2. making amends with, made up with, even with.

[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn) 225: ‘To be square with a man,’ to be even with him, or to be revenged.
[UK]T. Taylor Ticket-Of-Leave Man Act I: He’s taken his oath [...] to be square with me for that Peckham job.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 17 Nov. 99: I hadn’t forgotten my resolution to get square with Hurd [...] and I asked him to send in his bill.
[US]B. Fisher A. Mutt in Blackbeard Compilation (1977) 12: I’m square with the wife and kid and you couldn’t get me back to the track with a pick ax.
[US]R. Chandler ‘Nevada Gas’ in Spanish Blood (1946) 173: I guess Nicky and I are all square with the law.
turn square (v.) (also turn square-guy)

of a criminal, to reform, to join the world of the law-abiding.

[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Dundee Courier 12 Feb. 7/6: ‘I’ll turn square if I can’ [...] ‘Ah! lad, it’s not so easy turning square as you seem to think. Who’ll give you a character?’.
[UK]J.W. Horsley Jottings from Jail 23: Take my tip and turn square, from a hook who is going to be legged.
[US]Hopper & Bechdolt ‘9009’ (1909) 23: No more of this [...] I’ll turn square.
[US]G. Bronson-Howard God’s Man 301: How gladly he availed himself of the opportunity to ‘turn square,’ even though the reward was less.
[US]J. Lait ‘Charlie the Wolf’ in Beef, Iron and Wine (1917) 27: He’s prob’ly turned square and dropped out a sight.
[US]W. Smith Bessie Cotter 64: I was thinking of turning square-guy, too.
[US]D. Runyon Runyon à la Carte 101: If he does not make this six [...] I will be willing to turn square and quit gambling forever.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

square eyes (n.)

one who watches an excess of TV and who, supposedly, develops eyes the same shape as the screen; thus square-eyed adj., obsessed with watching television.

[UK]‘P.B. Yuill’ Hazell and the Three-card Trick (1977) 79: I stayed at Haggerston till the end of Columbo. I suppose an outsider would have marked us down as a typical square-eyed family.
[Aus]T. Davies More Aus. Nicknames 95: Square Eyes Is addicted to TV.
[Ire]P. Howard The Joy (2015) [ebook] Raymo, who’s sitting up the front with the rest of the square eyes [etc].
square face (n.) [the shape of the bottle]

1. gin.

W.E. Montague Campaigning in S. Afr. 98: Square-face is the invariable stuff, and you take as much as you like for a glass.
[[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 9 May 17/2: When the force arrested him he had – with a forethought born of much philosophic musing in the lonely bush – a square-faced bottle full of the same brand of tribulation].
H.A. Bryden Kloof and Karoo 60: A little hollands (out here called square-face).
[UK]‘Pot’ & ‘Swears’ Scarlet City 43: Keep off ‘square face‘ when you’re in trouble.
[UK]B. Mitford Aletta 197: He got out the materials for a rough-and-ready cold supper, and some excellent ‘square-face’.
[Aus]E.S. Sorenson Quinton’s Rouseabout and other Stories 118: He was expected back that day, an’ he mostly lands chock-a-block with news from down country, an’ often as not with a ‘square-face.’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 4 Aug. 13/2: They made big money, but the most of it went on ‘square face,’ and whilst under the influence they played havoc with the nerves of the more sedate residents.
[US]J. London ‘The Princess’ Complete Short Stories (1993) III 2481: My concept of hell is an illimitable coconut plantation stocked with cases of square-face and populated by shipwrecked mariners.
[Aus]E. Dyson Missing Link [Internet] Ch. xiv: He found Schmitz, the portly proprietor, sprawling on his own bar counter, embracing a bottle of squareface with a loving hug.
[US]Black Mask Aug. III 68: He’d been drinkin’ heavy, only this time it was Squareface.
[UK]B. Lubbock Bully Hayes 234: He had his bottle ‘squareface’.

2. (US) rum.

[US]Eve. Star (Washington, DC) 6 Feb. 21/5: Wherever [missionaries] went, powder and ‘square-face’ — rum — followed.
squarehead/-headed

see separate entries.

square mackerel (n.) [sea-borne smuggling of marijuana]

(drugs) marijuana.

[US]ONDCP Street Terms 20: Square mackerel — Marijuana, term from Florida.
square pair (n.) (also windows) [i.e. ‘four by four’]

(US) the throw of double-four (eight) in craps dice.

[US]Word for the Wise 31 Aug. [US radio script] When an Eighter from Decatur comes in the form of two fours, it’s called a square pair or windows.
[US] ‘The Lang. of Craps’ CasinoTips.org [Internet] EIGHT: ‘A square pair, like mom and dad,’ ‘Ozzie and Harriet,’ ‘the windows,’ ‘eighter from Decatur.’.
V. Douglas Remember Marcy 400: ‘Square pair!’ [...] The game rolled on. Various voices called out the odd ritual phrases known only to craps players.
square party (n.) [the four sides of the ‘square’]

two pairs of married people indulging in a wife-swapping party.

[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 422: I only meant a square party, a mixed marriage mingling of our different little conjugals.
square rigger (n.)

see separate entry.

square toes (n.) [his chosen, old-fashioned style of footwear]

an old man; a father.

[UK]Foote The Minor 31: Have a care, old Square Toes, you will meet with your match.
[UK]Smollett Humphrey Clinker (1925) I 179: Old Squaretoes was differently affected.
[Ire]J. O’Keeffe Young Quaker 19: Old Square-toes is finely taken in.
[UK]‘Peter Pindar’ ‘Pathetic Odes’ Works (1794) III 380: Old Square-toes, thank my God, has caught my fleas.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Apr. XIV 40/1: I will write directly to old Square-toes [...] and draw on him for money to pay the bookseller’s bill.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[US]S. Woodworth Forest Rose I iv: Old Squaretoes must not suspect.
[UK]A. Thornton Don Juan in London II 16: Where’s pa, and Unky Square-toes, and sister Prue?
[UK]W.J. Neale Paul Periwinkle 77: ‘D--me, my boy’ said old Squaretoes.
[UK]T. Hughes Tom Brown’s School-Days (1896) 192: Several times he faltered, for the devil showed him first all his old friends calling him ‘Saint’ and ‘Square-toes’.
[UK]Thackeray Adventures of Philip (1899) 146: I had a little mischievous pleasure in infuriating Square-toes.
[US]C.S. Montanye ‘The Man Who Never Forgot’ Detective Story 17 Dec. [Internet] The town is full of square toes keeping the lid down so tight.
(con. 1848) N. Devitt Celebrated S. Afr. Crimes 31: To Durban he had brought nothing besides the nickname of Jeremy Squaretoes, by which he was generally known.
[US]A.S. Fleischman Venetian Blonde (2006) 147: Squaretoes [...] you got a mind like an unflushed toilet.