fast and loose


Also found in: Dictionary, Legal, Wikipedia.

fast and loose

Not straightforward or honest. “Fast and Loose” was the medieval equivalent of the kind of con game now found in such scams as Three Card Monte. It involved two intricately arranged cloth straps. The victim was invited to choose one loop to place a stick through, and when the loop was pulled tight, the stick would be held fast and the victim would win a wager. However, the con artist had arranged both loops in such a way that either loop came free from the stick, no matter which one the victim selected, and the victim forfeited his bet. (Variations of the game under different names continue to this day.) That's how the phrase “to play fast and loose,” meaning dishonest, came to be used by people who never played the “game.”
See also: and, fast, loose
References in classic literature ?
She had liked him so well, and she had not thought him the sort of man who would play fast and loose with a woman's feelings for twenty years.
I wonder when a nation of the world ever played fast and loose with great possessions as we have done
It's a shame, by Heavens," said George, working himself up into passion and enthusiasm as he proceeded, "to play at fast and loose with a young girl's affections--and with such an angel as that--one so superior to the people amongst whom she lived, that she might have excited envy, only she was so good and gentle, that it's a wonder anybody dared to hate her.
Like most simple men, he was tenacious of ideas when he got them, and the belief that Claire was playing fast and loose was not lightly to be removed from his mind.
To bring deserving things down by setting undeserving things up is one of its perverted delights; and there is no playing fast and loose with the truth, in any game, without growing the worse for it.
Fast And Loose (BBC2, 10pm) FAST And Loose has been an enjoyably cuddly little addition to the Friday schedules, which, though it lacks the snarl and venom of big brother Mock The Week, does what it sets out to do - and makes us laugh.
Full browser ?