Green’s Dictionary of Slang

square v.

[square adj.]

1. (also square up) to settle, to put right, spec. to deal with problems, often by using influence, bribes, threats etc.; thus n. square, any form of corruption (see cite 1897).

[UK](con. early 17C) W. Scott Fortunes of Nigel II 246: Now, were it not better, my prince of flat-caps that matters were squared between you.
[UK]R. Nicholson Cockney Adventures 10 Feb. 115: Vill yer stand a drink to square it?
[UK]Worcester Herald 26 Dec. 4/3: Square the broke [sic] for a bus, take his attention off whilst I pick his pockets.
[UK]Dickens Bleak House (1991) 316: It’s all squared, you see, as I squared it myself, sir.
[Aus]Argus (Melbourne) 14 Feb. [N]o llittle astonishment was expressed [...] when it was rumoured [...] that the charge had been, to use a ‘slang’ term, ‘squared’ .
[UK]J. Greenwood Seven Curses of London 202: It can surely to God be squared between so many of you, and only the moll to come against me.
Sheffield & Rotherham Indep. 11 Oct. 9: The ‘old lag’ [...] is certain of good treatment [...] if his ‘pals’ (companions) outside the prison ‘square the screw’.
[UK]Dundee Courier (Scot.) 8 Sept. 7/3: Can’t I square you? I’ll sling you a quid to say nothing about this affair.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 24 Jan. 6/2: Earl Powis’ brother […] has been committed for trial for an offence of the Cornwell grade. All the reporters were squared, and nothing transpired about the case for over three days after the committal.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 26 Sept. 6/4: [T]he day must come when the most expert of squarers can square successfully no longer, and there is an end even to the efficacy of hush-money.
[UK]P.H. Emerson Signor Lippo 13: I just think you would beg my pardon, and to show you mean it stand a couple of shants of bevarly to square the boys.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 10 Feb. 5/5: The openly-expressed suspicion is that the prosecutor has been ‘squared’ by the accused’s friends.
[US]F. Hutcheson Barkeep Stories 13: ‘I spends $4 in de joint squarin’ it, so’s we won’t get pinched’.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 10 Jan. 5/3: We’ve heard of funny things, of squares and jockey rings.
[US]Flynt & Walton Powers That Prey 67: He constructed his first block of tenement houses with thinner walls and less commodious apartments than the law commands: he was obliged to ‘square’ the building committee.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 25 Sept. 1/5: One flash little gentleman openly charged the daily press [...] with being ‘squared’ to unfairly advocate the claims of the public.
[UK]A. Binstead Pitcher in Paradise 42: I’ve squared the dago waiter to keep the joke up.
[Aus]Punch (Melbourne) 27 Sept. 4/2: They cudn’t ply a fair and onerst gime if they wos paid fer it; they [...] ’ad squared ther umpire. It was red ’ot.
[UK]A. Brazil Fourth Form Friendship 85: ‘We’ll manage to square them somehow,’ said Phœbe. ‘I don’t think they’ll tell Miss Drummond’.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘Duck an’ Fowl’ in Moods of Ginger Mick 15: Now, when a bloke ’e cracks a bloke fer insults to a skirt, / An’ wrecks a joint to square a lady’s name.
[US]E. Ferber ‘That’s Marriage’ in One Basket (1947) 47: I had to come back and square things with you, Terry.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 306: Were you round at the court? says Joe. – Yes, says J. J. He’ll square that, Ned, says he. – Hope so, says Ned.
[US]V.F. Nelson Prison Days and Nights 23: If it only costs a few bucks to square up a case, I wouldn’t mind.
[US]I. Shulman Amboy Dukes 117: I’ll square things with your folks.
[US]L. Uris Battle Cry (1964) 49: He squares himself by saving the life of the D.I.
[US]L. Wolf Voices from the Love Generation 66: How do your square your job, your income, with the belief that the culture is corrupt.
[US]V.E. Smith Jones Men 98: I want to try and square things with him.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Boys from Binjiwunyawunya 207: I spent a week in the remand yard out there on an assault charge [...] Price squared it for me.
[UK]N. Barlay Curvy Lovebox 164: I have to square things with Char.
[US]College Sl. Research Project (Cal. State Poly. Uni., Pomona) [Internet] Square bit’ness (verb) Handle your business; take care of things (before they take care of you).
[Aus]P. Temple Black Tide (2012) [ebook] ‘Armits,’ he said. ‘Squared first [...] Hundred and sixty [i.e. A$160,000].
[US]T. Piccirilli Fever Kill 77: Good, get it squared, then we’ll square up, see where we stand.

2. to pay off or bribe a policeman; thus square his nibs v., to pay off a policeman; squared adj.

[UK]G.A. Sala Gaslight and Daylight 130: The police naturally appeared [...] and a great deal of expense was entailed upon him in ‘squaring’ these functionaries.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 100: SQUARING HIS NIBS, giving a policeman money.
[UK]Wild Boys of London I 45/2: Has you squared the Peeler?
[UK]Five Years’ Penal Servitude 271: The number of things ‘squared’ between thieves and the police would astonish the British public if they were all brought to light.
[Aus] ‘Welsher’s Confession’ in Seal (1999) 143: Just then a ‘demon’ came up, and I squared him with two quid.
[UK]‘Pot’ & ‘Swears’ Scarlet City 441: That establishment has been closed, owning to the meanness of the proprietor in not properly squaring the gentlemen in blue.
[Ire]Joyce ‘Grace’ Dubliners (1956) 158: ‘I suppose you squared the constable, Jack,’ said Mr M’Coy.
[US]J. Callahan Man’s Grim Justice 35: The first thing we’ve got to do is square the hotel dicks.
[US]J. Lait Gangster Girl 11: If a ‘rap’ threatened, and this was a Federal offense, hard to square or beat, the ‘monkeys’ would be jettisoned without hesitation.
[Aus](con. 1941) E. Lambert Twenty Thousand Thieves 215: I was running a book in the lane behind a pub. Had all the coppers squared from the inspector down.

3. to pay one’s debts; to pay a bill.

[US]Columbian Register 2 Apr. 4: A tin pedlar has cleared the coop, hook and line, bob and sinker, without being able to square his accounts!
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 149/1: After ‘squaring’ the driver in we went to the ‘crib’.
[UK]Sporting Times 8 Feb. 1/2: Now I wonder if I’ve enough to square this bally Italian. [...] How much do I owe?
[Aus]‘Tom Bluegum’ Backblocks’ Parson 181: ‘Say, mister, how much jink [sic] ’ll take to square us?’ ‘My fee is two guineas,’ replied the preacher.
[US]‘A-No. 1’ From Coast to Coast with Jack London 29: Got any money with which to square yourselves for this trip?
[Aus]X. Herbert Capricornia (1939) 469: Norman suggested to Mark that he should begin to square accounts.
[Aus](con. 1945–6) P. Doyle Devil’s Jump (2008) 75: He told me he was into Mick for sixty quid. They were supposed to square last week.

4. (UK Und.) to sort things out with another person.

[UK]Leeds Times 12 Dec. 6/5: Quick as you can, girls [...] feel in his pockets, and hand it over here; we’ll square in the morning.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 70/1: Then ‘square’ yourself as you best can, and take the omnibus to Edinburgh.
[UK]J. Caminada Twenty-Five Years of Detective Life I 66: A few coppers sufficed to get rid of the youngsters, and then we had to ‘square’ the woman.
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘In Vino Veritas’ Sporting Times 30 June 1/4: He pretends, all the same, that he’s squared the old Dutch, / But he can’t be believed when he’s sober!
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 6 Dec. 36/2: Yer see, [...] when a bloke breaks up over ’is girl yer don’t want ter go near ’im, ’n’ yer want to keep ’er away from ’im, too, coz when she starts squarin’ ’im ’e only gets worse and finishes up by gettin’ drunk. Then next mornin’ ’e fetches 40 bob for heavin’ his science about ’n’ tearin’ a uniform.
[US]B. Fisher A. Mutt in Blackbeard Compilation (1977) 116: I’ll go right home and square myshelf.
[US]H. Hapgood Types from City Streets 60: It will take a lot of ‘treating’ and the exploitation of much temperamental good-nature before I can ‘square’ myself with him.
[Can]R. Service ‘Barb-Wire Bill’ in Rhymes of a Rolling Stone 85: Though no saint on earth, d’ye think—Bill’s squared hisself with Heaven?
[US]J. Spenser Limey 10: Unless I had at least five hundred dollars [...] to square the people who mattered.
[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 17 Sept. [synd. col.] Borey Pink, the d.j., once pleaded [...] ‘square me with Pegler, who is wrecking my sleep.’.
[US]M. Puzo Godfather 137: Mike, we can square everything, witnessess and so forth.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 128: Frank [...] ain’t I always squared with you guys?

5. (US) to place someone in an advantageous position.

[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 11 Oct. 6/3: ‘We had a nice long talk and told him the whole programmne [...] Gave it to them as nice as I could and squared you’.

6. to give or lend money.

[UK]Globe (London) 10 Mar. n.p.: They have squandered enormous sums of money in squaring a huge army of committee men, collectors, and other hangers-on [F&H].
[US]Ade Artie (1963) 82: You’ve got to square the waiter every time you go in the dinin’-room.
[US]A.H. Lewis Boss 183: There’s as many as thirty hungry ones who [...] must be met an’ squared.
[US]J. Black You Can’t Win (2000) 110: The constable was sore about the burglary and wouldn’t square them for a ride into Salt Lake.

7. (also square off, square up) to make things equal.

[UK]J. Poole Hamlet Travestie III vi: Hamlet, let’s square accounts—Tho’ there’s some little diff’rence in amounts— Mine, and my father’s death, ’gainst your’s be reckon’d.
[Aus]Field 25 Sept. n.p.: Mr. Laidlay won with six, and squared matters [F&H].
[UK]Sporting Times 1 Mar. 3/2: He would have in a doctor and tell him everything but the square-toed truth about his symptoms, and so as to square accounts utterly ignore and disobey that doctor’s diagnosis and prescription.
[US]F. Williams Hop-Heads 101: I put up more than $1,000 to square him and he double-crossed me and ran off with the next ‘lot’.
[UK]Wodehouse Carry on, Jeeves 76: He was trying to square all this prosperity with what he knew of poor old Bicky.
[UK]Wodehouse Right Ho, Jeeves 177: I don’t know his name, but then he didn’t know mine [...] which squares things up a bit.
[US]B. Frame Crown Jewels are Missing 45: This isn’t murder, McClune. You’ve got a chance to square things, take your punishment, and again be the sort of man I think you are.
[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 26: It doesn’t square up.
[US]‘Blackie’ Audett Rap Sheet 111: We’ll square this off, soon as I can cool down a little.
[Can]R. Caron Go-Boy! 195: You made me look bad in front of my friends and now I’ve got to square things.

8. (US Und.) to gain a pardon.

[US]J. Callahan Man’s Grim Justice 121: ‘Have you ever thought about squaring that North Carolina jolt?’ [...] ‘You mean you can get me a pardon [etc.].’.

9. (also square oneself) to take up a respectable, honest life.

[US]J. Black You Can’t Win (2000) 193: I marvel to this day I did not quit my stealing right then and there [...] Yet the thought of turning to the right, squaring myself and starting anew never entered my mind.
[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 180: SQUARE.– [...] to leave a life of crime or to abandon the road.

10. (US gay) to have heterosexual intercourse with.

[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 188: square somebody to have heterosexual coitus ‘Square your wife before you square your mistress: remember the priorities.’.

11. see square up v.1

In compounds

square-off (n.)

see separate entry.

In phrases

square away (v.) [milit. jargon square away, to put in proper order]

1. to deal with, to settle; thus squared away adj.

[US]Ade Forty Modern Fables 151: Adams brought out the necessary Tools and the four Comrades squared away.
[US]C. Brown Manchild in the Promised Land (1969) 185: Let me take care-a the nigger for you, and we’ll be squared away.
[US]H. Rhodes Chosen Few (1966) 21: Let’s get it out in the open and maybe we can get things squared away.
[US]E. Bunker Animal Factory 104: ‘Get that squared away?’ he asked.
[US](con. 1940s) C. Bram Hold Tight (1990) 55: Working at this house should square away his trouble with the Shore Patrol.

2. to sort out, to put away, to put in order, whether emotionally or physically; thus squared away adj.

[[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 4 July 28/1: You can’t have seen the little Dollies / Get square with hatpins, boots and brollies!].
[US]H. Hunt East of Farewell 55: Just when you get something squared away out here, the damn ocean kicks up and knocks your plans to hell.
[US]K.C. Lamott Stockade 180: Goddamn you, Fischer, when’re you going to get yourself squared away?
[US](con. 1950) E. Frankel Band of Brothers 3: Give him time [...] He’s just off the boat. He’ll get squared away.
[US]J. Blake letter 7 July in Joint (1972) 184: It would take me at least two weeks to get squared away financially.
[US](con. 1920s) J. Thompson South of Heaven (1994) 215: After a stiff drink he got squared away again.
[US]O. Hawkins Ghetto Sketches 196: I thought you were gon’ send a plumber over to square my toilet away?
[US]J. Webb Fields of Fire (1980) 128: It’ll be tighten-up time, girls. We’re gonna square you all away.
[US]H. Gould Fort Apache, The Bronx 327: All right, we got the casualty list squared away.
[Can](con. 1920s) O.D. Brooks Legs 115: You could hole up with the folks till you got squared away.
[Aus]B. Moore Lex. of Cadet Lang. 366: usage: ‘Are you all squared away with your work for this exam?’.
[US]T. Jones Pugilist at Rest 5: Sergeant Wright was no candy ass. He was one squared-away dude.
[US]N. McCall Makes Me Wanna Holler (1995) 269: How I’d gotten out of prison and gotten squared away so fast.
[US]R. Price Lush Life 216: ‘How soon?’ ‘As soon as I get you squared away [...] Get you home’ .

3. to explain, to put in the picture.

[US]K. Vonnegut ‘Runaways’ in Bagombo Snuff Box (1999) 253: She was boiling mad about having all the blame put on her son, and she now squared the governor of Indiana away.
[UK]G.F. Newman Sir, You Bastard 114: Sneed was to find the case officer and square him away.

4. (Aus.) to bribe.

[Aus]B. Humphries Traveller’s Tool 37: Squaring away City Councillors […] is business.
square it (v.)

1. to live or act honestly.

[UK]A. Mayhew Paved with Gold 70: When some one of the fraternity says he has made up his mind, and is ‘going to square it’ (live honestly for the future), the others, one and all, exclaim, ‘Well, I’m glad on it; I only wish I could do the same!’.
[US] in ‘Mark Twain’ Life on the Mississippi (1914) 461: Lord give a poor fellow a chance to square it for 3 months for Christ’s sake, amen.
[US]J. Flynt Tramping with Tramps 387: ‘Squared it’ [...] signifies that a tramp or criminal has reformed and become respectable. [...] ‘I learned my trade in the pen, ’n’ when I got out I decided to square it.’.
[US]H. Hapgood Autobiog. of a Thief 334: As a general thing I found that guns who had squared it and become prosperous had never been very successful grafters.
[US]H. Hapgood Types from City Streets 51: ‘Chuck’ Connors was talking about a grafter who had ‘squared it’.
[US]Perrysburg Jrnl (Wood Co., OH) 22 May 2/1: I’m goin’ to square it, an’ be a hick, myself.
[US]P. & T. Casey Gay-cat 288: This mornin’, I gets a job, see? — I gets a job. We’ll square it, Gay-cat, old timer. You and me. We’ll square it.
[US]J. Callahan Man’s Grim Justice in Hamilton Men of the Und. 292: I’ve been trying to square it, Chief.
[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 180: Square It.–To abandon a ‘racket’ or ‘graft.’ To live honestly, especially after serving a term in prison by which one’s debt to the law may be said to have been ‘squared’ or met.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).

2. to explain, to make excuses.

[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 12/1: Legs had [...] been doing a crib the night previous, but on ‘raking the stuff, stuck’ to some eighty pounds. The others found it out, and [...] he was accused of sinking the eighty ‘quid,’ and asked to ‘square it’.
[UK]Besant & Rice Golden Butterfly II 177: Go and square it with Colquhoun.
[UK]Sporting Times 19 Apr. 3/1: [He] got a pal to square it all at the club, and now George was a member of Tattersall’s.
[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ I Need The Money 97: He’ll be so confused when he does show up that he won’t be able to square it!
[US]G. Bronson-Howard Enemy to Society 154: Don’t go out of the house ’til I’ve gone down and squared it with McGuimp.
[US]F. Packard White Moll 177: Wait fer me while I finds Danglar an’ squares it wid him.
[US]E. Booth Stealing Through Life 193: We figured your old man was squaring it.
[US]E. Hemingway letter 18 Aug. in Baker Sel. Letters (1981) 835: He would insult people and I would have to square it to keep him from being beaten up.
[UK]C. MacInnes Mr Love and Justice (1964) 144: Well, if you can square it with your girl I’d say the simplest is to give it to him.
[US]M. Puzo Godfather 146: I’ll square it with your Mom your not seeing her before you left.
[UK]J. Healy Grass Arena (1990) 165: Help me get rid of that extra bed and you can move into the other one. Square it with the number one.
[UK]T. Blacker Fixx 57: We’d square it with the duty prefect and slip off into town.
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Ellroy L.A. Confidential 71: You squared it with Green?
[UK]R. Barnard A Fatal Attachment (1993) 188: He squared it with Midlands TV – said the baby had colic.
[UK]K. Sampson Outlaws (ms.) 25: I’ve got my place in the Dock and I don’t even have to square it with her when I stay there.
[UK]N. Barlay Hooky Gear 36: I dont even get to square it with Handbag.

3. to render acceptable, appealing; to make things right.

[UK]Derby Day 69: Square it with him now.
[UK]J. Greenwood Dick Temple III 117: What proof have I that you didn’t square it with these people, and go shares in the swag?
[UK] ‘’Arry on Politics’ in Punch 11 May 205/1: But Beakey’s the boy, after all, as has squared it for our little lot.
[UK]Besant & Rice Seamy Side II 260: Oh, Uncle Anthony, surely money will square it!
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Colonial Reformer I 150: I’ll square it with the chap that looks after the spare horses.
[US]W. Norr Stories of Chinatown 40: He was willing enough to square it.
[Aus]K. Tennant Battlers 106: ‘You’re very decent to me,’ he said faintly. ‘Well, you was good to me. So that squares it.’.
square off (v.)

1. see sense 6 above.

2. see separate entries.

square someone’s circle (v.)

(US campus) to have sexual intercourse with someone.

[US]P. Munro Sl. U. 180: She dragged him into her room and squared his circle.
square up (v.)

1. see sense 1 above.

2. see sense 6 above.

3. see separate entries.