kid on the square

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



Although dating back to the early 20th century, the phrase was popularized by Al Franken in his book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them (2003) where he described the negative reaction of Paul Wolfowitz to one of his jokes. Additionally, in 1983 jazz singer Mose Allison wrote and performed a song called "Kidding on the Square" on his album Middle Class White Boy; in the liner notes, he described it as "joking with serious intent."


kid on the square (third-person singular simple present kids on the square, present participle kidding on the square, simple past and past participle kidded on the square)

  1. To be joking, but at the same time really mean it.
    • 1907, Alfred Damon Runyon, “The Defense of Strikerville”, in McClure's Magazine, volume 28, page 379:
      "I'm kiddin' on the square," said Hanks.
    • 1977, Dan Rather; Mickey Herskowitz, The Camera Never Blinks[1], →ISBN, page 66:
      So I always knew what Pierce meant, in a kidding-on-the-square kind of way.
    • 2006, Stuart Ostrow, Present at the Creation[2], →ISBN, page 46:
      "At least he likes historical characters," I kidded on the square. No one laughed so I went to work recruiting other directors.