Online Encyclopedia

FAST AND LOOSE

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V10, Page 192 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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FAST AND LOOSE, a cheating game played at fairs by sharpers. A strap, usually in the form of a belt, is rolled or doubled up with a loop in the centre, and laid edgewise on a table. The swindler then bets that the loop cannot be caught with a stick or skewer as he unrolls the belt. As this looks to be easy to do the bet is often taken, but the sharper unrolls the belt in such a manner as to make the catching of the loop practically impossible. Centuries ago it was much practised by gipsies, a circumstance alluded to by Shakespeare in Anthony and Cleopatra (iv. 12) : " Like a right gipsy, hath, at fast and loose, Beguiled me to the very heart of loss." From this game is taken the colloquial expression " to play fast and loose." At the present day it is called " prick the garter " or " prick the loop."
End of Article: FAST AND LOOSE
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