Where Did the Phrase “Double-Cross” For a Betrayal Come From and What Does the Idiom Mean?

If you cross someone, you’re cheating him.

A double-cross means you are cheating both your employer and the one you’ve been hired to deceive.

In the 1800s, Thackeray described a fixed horse race in Vanity Fair where the jockey who was prearranged to lose was instead allowed to win, costing the gamblers a fortune.

Because the fixer had crossed or cheated both parties for a huge profit, the win was called a “double-cross.”

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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