[duhb-uh l-kraws, -kros]

verb (used with object) Informal.

to prove treacherous to; betray or swindle, as by a double cross.

Origin of double-cross

First recorded in 1900–05
Related formsdou·ble-cross·er, noun

double cross


a betrayal or swindle of a colleague.
an attempt to win a contest that one has agreed beforehand to lose.Compare cross(def 21).
Genetics. a cross in which both parents are first-generation hybrids from single crosses, thus involving four inbred lines.

Origin of double cross

First recorded in 1825–35 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for double-cross

Historical Examples of double-cross

  • I might have had sense enough to see he'd take the first chance to hand me the double-cross.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • The only one who didn't give me the double-cross out and out.

    Garrison's Finish

    W. B. M. Ferguson

  • He wouldn't "double-cross" the "Gink" or anyone else for money, see?

    Spring Street

    James H. Richardson

  • I should have been forced to double-cross my boss, and I'd have hated it.

  • The islander had tried twice to-night to give him the double-cross.

    El Diablo

    Brayton Norton

British Dictionary definitions for double-cross



(tr) to cheat or betray


the act or an instance of double-crossing; betrayal
Derived Formsdouble-crosser, noun

double cross


a technique for producing hybrid stock, esp seed for cereal crops, by crossing the hybrids between two different pairs of inbred lines
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for double-cross

1834, from double (adj.) + cross (n.) in the sense of "pre-arranged swindle or fix." Originally to win a race after promising to lose it. As a verb from 1903, American English. Related: Double-crossed; double-crossing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with double-cross

double cross

A deliberate betrayal; violation of a promise or obligation, as in They had planned a double cross, intending to keep all of the money for themselves. This usage broadens the term's earlier sense in sports gambling, where it alluded to the duplicity of a contestant who breaks his word after illicitly promising to lose. Both usages gave rise to the verb double-cross. [Late 1800s]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.