Above board

This does not look above the board! © Dreamstime.com Agency | Dreamstime.com

For once an American idiom that has nothing to do with sports: above board.  This expression means that something is done legally, honestly, straightforward, and without trickery or cheating.  The roots are somewhat obscure, some believe it goes back to ships and seafaring but the best explanation I have read is that it has to do with gambling: a gambler whose hands are above the table at all times can’t cheat and play tricks like changing cards.

This expression is mainly used in business and less in casual non-business type settings.  It is used in contexts like: “The company claims that all their business is strictly above board and that the investigators would not find any signs of fraud.”

or “He is such an above the board guy, I just can’t imagine he cheated his company out of millions.”

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