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fast and loose

described as "a cheating game played with a stick and a belt or string, so arranged that a spectator would think he could make the latter fast by placing a stick through its intricate folds, whereas the operator could detach it at once." [James O. Halliwell, "Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words," 1847]. The figurative sense (1550s) is recorded earlier than the literal (1570s).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Examples from the Web for fast and loose

Historical Examples

  • Why should he try to maintain a fast-and-loose relation with Barbara?

    The Graysons

    Edward Eggleston

  • He has been at his old game of fast-and-loose with me; but as I never trusted him, I am not deceived.

  • Fast-and-loose, a cheating game sometimes played at fairs by gipsies, and also called 'prick the garter'.

  • Three times during this fast-and-loose interval was the fly changed.


Idioms and Phrases with fast and loose

fast and loose

see play fast and loose.

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