What does the idiom "above board" mean?

above board is an idiom used by many writers. When idioms are used in the right place, they open the doors of effective communication and increase your descriptive power. In this way, you will be better understood. The meaning of the expression above board is also remarkable in this respect.

Meaning of "above board"


When something is described as ‘above board’, it means that it is open, honest and fair. The phrase can be used to describe a business transaction, a discussion or any activity where there is an element of trust or transparency expected.


The expression is of nautical origin and it dates back to the 19th century. It refers to the board that held the ship's compass in place. This board is also referred to as a 'dodger', and it was placed so that it was visible from above and from below. This meant that the compass and its movements were obvious to all, thus reflecting the sense of honesty and transparency that the phrase now connotes.


This phrase is often used to describe business transactions and negotiations, especially when transparency is important. It can also be used to emphasise that an activity is not being conducted in a deceptive manner.

Example Sentences.

  • The boardroom negotiations were all conducted ‘above board’, with complete transparency.
  • We have nothing to hide, so all our transactions are conducted ‘above board’.
  • We want to make sure the process is fair and above board, so everyone has the same chance.

The meanings of the words in the "above board" idiom

Idioms with similar meanings in different languages

"Barking up the wrong tree" is an English idiom that means to pursue a mistaken or misguided course of action. In German, the similar idiom is "Auf dem Holzweg sein," which translates to "To be on the wrong track." This idiom emphasizes the idea that when you are pursuing the wrong course of action, you are not going to achieve your desired outcome.


No comment has been written about above board yet, you can write the first comment and share your thoughts with our other visitors.
Leave a Reply