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above board

Meaning: If something is above board, it's been done in a legal and honest way.

For example:

  • I'm sure the deal was completely above board as I know James well and he'd never do anything illegal or corrupt.

  • The minister claimed all the appointments were above board and denied claims that some positions had been given to his friends.

Origin: Possibly derived from card playing and the fact that card players who keep their hands above the table (or above "the board") can be seen to be playing honestly, without cheating.

Quick Quiz:

The government officials are being investigated for corruption. If everything they've done has been above board, they'll have
  1. a lot to worry about
  2. nothing to worry about
  3. something to worry about

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