“Above Board”, how did it originate?


Feeling a bit of a jet-lag, couldn’t sleep, so decided to put this out. The explanation for this saying is rather long, anyway what is written is quite amusing. Enjoy it.

Above Board”

In the Middle Ages, the word ‘table’ had not yet arrived from France and you ate from a ‘board’ (a Scandinavian word), supported on trestles. This board was rough on one side, the side you ate your meals on, and smooth and polished on the other. The meal was eaten and then the board was turned so that all the scraps fell onto the floor and the polished side was then uppermost (you took the rough with the smooth).

The board was used for games, which were marked on the surface of the board, and were thus board games. If you won by a large margin or won all the games you would sweep the board, but you had to keep your hands showing to prove that you were not cheating and so everything was above board.

The head of the household was the only one of the family to sit in a chair with arms as he was the only person in the house to have idle hands, and so he was the Chairman in the house. If he held a meeting of his servants or estates workers, they all sat round the board and it was a board meeting and he was the Chairman of the Board.

If a band  of strolling players came to the village, the farm carts were gathered together and the boards from various homes placed on top of the carts to form a flat surface, and so the actors trod the boards.

If visitors came to stay the night and the best bed (reserved for visitors) was full, then the borad could be placed on the straw on the floor or left on the supporting trestles to offer bed and board.  There was often a ledge round the walls of the room upon which to lodge your bottom while you ate, so if you stayed overnight and then ate with the family, you were offered board and lodging.

Interesting and amusing, don’t you think so?

Do not take too long to visit again, thank you for reading this.

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Source: ‘By Hook or By Crook” by Tony Wootton & Gwen Zanzaottera.

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