bid fair, to seem likely: This entry bids fair to win first prize.
    fair and square,
    1. honestly; justly; straightforwardly: He won the race fair and square.
    2. honest; just; straightforward: He was admired for being fair and square in all his dealings.
    fair to middling, Informal. only tolerably good; so-so.

Origin of fair

before 900; Middle English; Old English fæger; cognate with Old Saxon, Old High German fagar, Old Norse fagr, Gothic fagrs
Related formsfair·ness, noun
Can be confusedfair far fare

Synonyms for fair

1. Fair, impartial, disinterested, unprejudiced refer to lack of bias in opinions, judgments, etc. Fair implies the treating of all sides alike, justly and equitably: a fair compromise. Impartial, like fair, implies showing no more favor to one side than another, but suggests particularly a judicial consideration of a case: an impartial judge. Disinterested implies a fairness arising particularly from lack of desire to obtain a selfish advantage: The motives of her guardian were entirely disinterested. Unprejudiced means not influenced or swayed by bias, or by prejudice caused by irrelevant considerations: an unprejudiced decision. 4. passable, tolerable, average, middling. 8. open, clear, unencumbered. 10. clean, spotless, pure, untarnished, unsullied, unstained. 11. legible, distinct. 12. blond, pale. 13. pretty, comely, lovely. 15. polite, gracious. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for fair and square

aboveboard, honest, impartial, just, straightforward

British Dictionary definitions for fair and square




free from discrimination, dishonesty, etc; just; impartial
in conformity with rules or standards; legitimatea fair fight
(of the hair or complexion) light in colour
beautiful or lovely to look at
moderately or quite gooda fair piece of work
unblemished; untainted
(of the tide or wind) favourable to the passage of a vessel
sunny, fine, or cloudless
(prenominal) informal thorough; reala fair battle to get to the counter
pleasant or courteous
apparently good or valuable, but really falsefair words
open or unobstructeda fair passage
Australian (of handwriting) clear and legible
a fair crack of the whip, Australian a fair shake of the dice or a fair go informal a fair opportunity; fair chance
fair and square in a correct or just way
fair do's
  1. equal shares or treatment
  2. an expression of appeal for equal shares or treatment
fair enough! an expression of agreement
fair go! Australian and NZ informal come off it!; I don't believe it!
fair to middling about average


in a fair way; correctlyact fair, now!
absolutely or squarely; quitethe question caught him fair off his guard
dialect really or veryfair tired


(intr) dialect (of the weather) to become fine and mild


archaic a person or thing that is beautiful or valuable, esp a woman
Derived Formsfairness, noun

Word Origin for fair

Old English fæger; related to Old Norse fagr, Old Saxon, Old High German fagar, Gothic fagrs suitable




a travelling entertainment with sideshows, rides, etc, esp one that visits places at the same time each year
a gathering of producers of and dealers in a given class of products to facilitate businessa book fair
an event including amusements and the sale of goods, esp for a charity; bazaar
a regular assembly at a specific place for the sale of goods, esp livestock

Word Origin for fair

C13: from Old French feire, from Late Latin fēria holiday, from Latin fēriae days of rest: related to festus festal
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 fair and square



Old English fæger "beautiful, lovely, pleasant," from Proto-Germanic *fagraz (cf. Old Saxon fagar, Old Norse fagr, Old High German fagar "beautiful," Gothic fagrs "fit"), perhaps from PIE *pek- "to make pretty" (cf. Lithuanian puošiu "I decorate").

The meaning in reference to weather (c.1200) preserves the original sense (opposed to foul). Sense of "light-complexioned" (1550s) reflects tastes in beauty; sense of "free from bias" (mid-14c.) evolved from another early meaning, "morally pure, unblemished" (late 12c.). The sporting senses (fair ball, fair catch etc.) began in 1856. Fair play is from 1590s; fair and square is from c.1600. Fair-haired in the figurative sense of "darling, favorite" is from 1909. First record of fair-weather friends is from 1736.



early 14c., from Anglo-French feyre (late 13c.), from Old French feire, from Vulgar Latin *feria "holiday, market fair," from Latin feriae "religious festivals, holidays," related to festus "solemn, festive, joyous" (see feast).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with fair and square

fair and square

Just and honest, as in He won the race fair and square. This redundant expression—fair and square mean essentially the same thing—probably owes its long life to its rhyme. [Early 1600s]


In addition to the idioms beginning with fair

  • fair and square
  • fair enough
  • fair game
  • fair play
  • fair sex
  • fair shake, a
  • fair to middling
  • fairy godmother

also see:

  • all's fair in love and war
  • play fair
  • turnabout is fair play
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.