kid on the square



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 vol. 28 [1], page 379:
      "I'm kiddin' on the square," said Hanks.
    • 1977, Dan Rather and Mickey Herskowitz, The Camera Never Blinks [2], ISBN 0688031846, 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 [3], ISBN 1557836469, page 46:
      "At least he likes historical characters," I kidded on the square. No one laughed so I went to work recruiting other directors.