I have made 2-year apprenticeship as a multilingual correspondent. One expression that I came across but is still unclear to me is:

"to be above board" or "He is above board"

I have looked it up on several different platforms and haven't been able to figure out what it means.

Could someone please explain to me what it means? Thank you!


it means honest, reputable, without deceit. someone or something that is legitimate, honest and open

  • So, it is a positive description of a persons characteristics? Aha, thanks a lot. – user2521387 Apr 15 '14 at 0:31
  • 4
    @user2521387: Bear in mind it's relatively uncommon to apply this idiomatic expression to a person. Usually it's used of procedures, actions, arrangements (particularly, of financial matters). It's a figurative C16 gambling usage - if you always keep your hands/cards above board (not under the table), everyone can see you're not cheating. – FumbleFingers Apr 15 '14 at 0:56
  • In the famous Cantina scene in the original Star Wars, you may recall, Han Solo is not above board in his dealings with Greedo. – Sven Yargs Apr 15 '14 at 1:40

"If things are done above board, they are carried out in a legal and proper manner" -Meaning there is no corruption, or cheating as the origin is believed to be from gaming: If card players keep their hands above the table (board) they can be seen to be playing fairly.

Congrats on your apprenticeship!

  • late response from me, but thank you very much. It was worth the effort, enabling me to get in touch with ppl. – user2521387 Jun 15 '14 at 19:27

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