cook the books

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



From the mid-17th century. A metaphor based on cooking, whereby ingredients are changed, altered and improved. Thus financial statements can also be so modified to the benefit of the "cook".


  • (file)


cook the books (third-person singular simple present cooks the books, present participle cooking the books, simple past and past participle cooked the books)

  1. (idiomatic) To manipulate accounting information, especially illegally.
    Enron Corp., once a major U.S. corporation, is now famous for cooking the books.
  2. (idiomatic, by extension) To falsify an account of an event.
    • 2012, R.I. Iyemere, The Ordeals: Poems in Memory of Ada-Emilia Valmori, →ISBN, page 146:
      Those that cooked the books and presented them with bias minds; They sugar-coated the stories; and twisted and exaggerated events
    • 2015, Seamus McGraw, Betting the Farm on a Drought, →ISBN:
      Two years after he received his piece of the Nobel Prize, Mann was drawn into controversy over a series of e-mails stolen from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom that some climate change skeptics charged provided proof that Mann and his fellow scientists were cooking the books on climate, though for what reason, the skeptics never made clear.
    • 2017, Stephen Warde Anderson, The Anderson Revisionist Bible: The Books of Moses, →ISBN, page 280:
      One does suspect that the authors of Numbers cooked the books a bit to make the more important and respected tribes (Judah, for instance) look good with higher population numbers.


See also[edit]