Square Deal, a

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Fair deal
Fair shake

Meaning of Idiom 'A Square Deal'

A square deal is an equitable bargain or one in which both parties are certain to benefit equally. 1, 2


All the variations date from the same period and can be used interchangeably. However, fair shake is often proceeded by give a ~, as in "we will give every bidder a fair shake on this job proposal."

"The strike will end when the workers are assured of a square deal with management."

"As long as its a fair deal I don't see any reason why you shouldn't take it."


According to the American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, all variants of this idiom have been in use since the early 1800's. 1

The use of 'square' to mean fair probably alludes to a square structure being firm and solid 3, or perhaps to its sides being equal.

A fair shake may allude to the shaking of dice.

Fair Deal was also the name of a set of proposals put forward by President Harry S. Truman in 1949. 1

1. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
2. Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U,
3. Jarvie, Gordon. Bloomsbury Dictionary of Idioms. London: Bloomsbury,

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