cook the books



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


to 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.


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