"act of treachery," 1834, from double (adj.) + cross (n.) in the sense of "pre-arranged swindle or fix." Originally to win a race after promising to lose it (to cheat in cheating, hence the double). As a verb from 1903, "to cheat," American English. Related: Double-crossed; double-crosser; double-crossing.
Entries linking to double-cross
c. 1300, "twice as much or as large," also "repeated, occurring twice," also "of extra weight, thickness, size, or strength; of two layers," from Old French doble (10c.) "double, two-fold; two-faced, deceitful," from Latin duplus "twofold, twice as much," from duo "two" (from PIE root *dwo- "two") + -plus "more" (see -plus).
From early 14c. as "having a twofold character or relation," also "consisting of two in a set together; being a pair, coupled." From mid-14c. as "characterized by duplicity." The earliest recorded use in English is c. 1200, in double-feast "important Church festival."
Double-chinned is from late 14c.; double-jointed, of persons, is by 1828. Military double time (1833) originally was 130 steps per minute; double quick (adj.) "very quick, hurried" (1822) originally was military, "performed at double time."
The photographic double exposure is by 1872. The cinematic double feature is by 1916. Double figures "numbers that must be represented numerically by two figures" is by 1833. Double-vision is by 1714. Double indemnity in insurance is by 1832; double jeopardy is by 1817. The baseball double play is by 1866.
Double trouble "twice the trouble" is by 1520s; in 19c. America it was the name of a characteristic step of a rustic dance or breakdown, derived from slave dancing on plantations. A double-dip (n.) originally was an ice-cream cone made with two scoops (1936); the figurative sense is by 1940. Double bed "bed made to sleep two persons" is by 1779. Double life "a sustaining of two different characters in life" (typically one virtuous or respectable, the other not) is by 1888.
Old English cros "instrument of Christ's crucifixion; symbol of Christianity" (mid-10c.), probably from Old Norse or another Scandinavian source, picked up by the Norse from Old Irish cros, from Latin crux (accusative crucem, genitive crucis) "stake, cross" on which criminals were impaled or hanged (originally a tall, round pole); hence, figuratively, "torture, trouble, misery;" see crux. Also from Latin crux are Italian croce, French croix, Spanish and Portuguese cruz, Dutch kruis, German Kreuz.
The modern word is the northern England form and has predominated. Middle English also had two other forms of the same word, arriving from the continent by different paths: cruche, crouche (c. 1200) was from Medieval Latin, with pronunciation as in Italian croce (compare Crouchmas "festival of the Invention of the Cross," late 14c.). Later, especially in southern England, the form crois, croice, from Old French, was the common one (compare croisade, the older form of crusade). The Old English word was rood.
By c. 1200 as "ornamental likeness of the cross, something resembling or in the form of a cross; sign of the cross made with the right hand or with fingers." From mid-14c. as "small cross with a human figure attached; a crucifix;" late 14c. as "outdoor structure or monument in the form of a cross." Also late 14c. as "a cross formed by two lines drawn or cut on a surface; two lines intersecting at right angles; the shape of a cross without regard to religious signification." From late 12c. as a surname.
From c. 1200 in English in the figurative sense "the burden of a Christian; any suffering voluntarily borne for Christ's sake; a trial or affliction; penance in Christ's name," from Matthew x.38, xvi.24, etc. Theological sense "crucifixion and death of Christ as a necessary part of his mission" is from late 14c.
As "a mixing of breeds in the production of animals" from 1760, hence broadly "a mixture of the characteristics of two different things" (1796). In pugilism, 1906, from the motion of the blow, crossing over the opponent's lead (1880s as a verb; cross-counter (n.) is from 1883). As "accidental contact of two wires belonging to different circuits," 1870.
updated on October 03, 2018