1. A polygon having four equal sides and four equal angles.
2. Something having an equal-sided rectangular form: a square of cloth.
3. A T-shaped or L-shaped instrument for drawing or testing right angles.
4. Mathematics The product obtained when a number or quantity is multiplied by itself: 49 is the square of 7.
5. Games Any of the quadrilateral spaces on a board, as in chess.
a. Abbr. Sq. An open, usually four-sided area at the intersection of two or more streets, often planted with grass and trees for use as a park.
b. A rectangular space enclosed by streets and occupied by buildings; a block.
7. The flower bud of a cotton plant, with three bracts surrounding the unopened flower in a pyramidal structure.
8. Slang A person who is regarded as dull, rigidly conventional, and out of touch with current trends.
adj. squar·er, squar·est
1. Having four equal sides and four right angles.
2. Forming a right angle.
3. In alignment or flush: Put the paper square with the edge of the desk.
a. Abbr. sq. Expressed in units measuring area: square feet.
b. Having a specified length in each of two equal dimensions: a room that is 12 feet square.
5. Having a base that is a square: a square pyramid.
6. Nautical Set at right angles to the mast and keel. Used of the yards of a square-rigged ship.
7. Approximately rectangular and equilateral in cross section: a square house.
8. Characterized by blocklike solidity or sturdiness.
9. Honest; direct: a square answer.
10. Just; equitable: a square deal.
11. Having all accounts settled; even: I paid what I owed you, so we're square.
12. Sports Even; tied.
13. Slang Rigidly conventional; dull.
v. squared, squar·ing, squares
1. To cut to a square or rectangular shape. Often used with off.
2. To test or adjust for conformity to a desired plane, straight line, or right angle.
3. To mark into squares. Often used with off.
a. To bring into conformity or agreement: She could not square the request with her principles.
b. To bring (oneself) into a better position or relation: He tried to square himself with his parents.
5. To set straight or at approximate right angles: square one's cap.
6. To bring into balance; settle: square a debt.
7. Sports To even the score of: to square a game.
a. To raise (a number or quantity) to the second power.
b. To find a square equal in area to (the area of a given figure).
9. Informal To bribe or fix: a party in litigation that tried to square the judge.
1. Mathematics To be at right angles.
2. To agree or conform: a story that doesn't square with the facts.
1. Mathematics At right angles.
2. In a square shape.
3. In a solid manner; firmly.
4. Directly; straight: ran square into each other.
5. In an honest, straightforward manner.
1. Nautical To square the yards of a sailing vessel.
2. To put away or in order.
To assume a fighting stance; prepare to fight.
To settle a bill or debt.
on the square
1. Mathematics At right angles.
2. Honestly and openly: has always dealt on the square.
out of square
1. Mathematics Not at exact right angles.
2. Not in agreement.
square peg in a round hole Informal
three squares a day Informal
Three square meals eaten in a day.
[Middle English, from Old French esquarre, from Vulgar Latin *exquadra, from *exquadrāre, to square : Latin ex-, ex- + quadrāre, to give a square shape to (from quadrum, a square; see kwetwer- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots).]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.