Where does the expression “double cross” come from and What does double cross mean?

The expression “double cross” means: Betrayal; treachery; deception by double-dealing; or, as a verb, to bamboozle; to take one to the cleaners.

Like any other slang expression this may have been current for many years before it received recognition on the printed page.

Its formation, however, was a natural one: the adjective double in the sense, “characterized by duplicity; false,” and the noun cross in its slang sense, “dishonesty; fraudulence.”

where does the expression double cross come from and what does double cross mean

The first record we have is in the 1874 edition of John Hotten’s Dictionary of Modern Slang, Cant, and Vulgar Words, with the definition, still in vogue in prize fights and some other sports, “A cross in which a man who has engaged to lose breaks his engagement, and ‘goes straight’ at the last moment.”

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist for zippyfacts.com. Born in New York, she loves interesting random facts from all over the world.