Definition of square in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /skwer/


1A plane figure with four equal straight sides and four right angles.
Example sentences
  • He arranges thin rectangles, squares, triangles and trapezoids in complex patterns on the wall.
  • The 2 X 0.5 m board was divided into four equal sections, with each section divided into 25 squares of equal size.
  • In all the pieces, the 12 squares are subdivided into four equal sections by painted lines that stop short of the middle.
1.1A thing having the shape of four equal straight sides and four right angles: she tore a bit of cloth into a four-inch square
More example sentences
  • The walls were lined in mirrored squares and there were even small spotlights reflecting off everything.
  • Over breakfast he got a Weetabix carton and cut out two squares and glued them together.
  • We selected a small square of sand bordered by several logs and overhung with a leafy screen and set our bags to the ground.
1.2A thing having the shape or approximate shape of a cube: a small square of chocolate
More example sentences
  • He peeled his orange and ate some squares of chocolate.
  • I ration myself to two squares of chocolate a day.
  • A sauce was made by boiling down the marinade and adding a square of dark chocolate.
1.3An open (typically four-sided) area surrounded by buildings in a town, village, or city: a market square [in place names]: Herald Square
More example sentences
  • The next morning, I head out early and stop first at Plaza Mayor, a huge square surrounded by some of the oldest buildings in the city.
  • The center of town was a tree-lined square, surrounded by quaint-looking stores and antique shops.
  • There will be free performances in the square every day next week, around lunch and tea-time.
market square, marketplace, plaza, piazza
1.4An open area at the meeting of streets.
Example sentences
  • The Barri Gotic, en route, is full of good cheap restaurants as well as being a quaint area of narrow streets and small squares which are a delight to stroll through.
  • The Bloomsbury Conservation Area is characterised by a planned pattern of streets and squares developed mainly during the 18th and early 19th centuries.
  • Near the port area is compact Ladadika, a cluster of squares and streets which formerly comprised olive oil warehouses and markets.
1.5A small square area on the board used in a game.
Example sentences
  • Each player in her turn chooses one of the squares of the board and writes a number from 1 to 6 in the square with her colored pen.
  • This game is superior in complexity to English draughts by virtue of the fact that it is played on a board ten squares by ten squares and that capturing moves have an extended scope.
  • Elaborating on the Braille chessboard, he said, the black squares on the board were slightly more raised than the white ones.
1.6US A block of buildings bounded by four streets.
Example sentences
  • Security was tight in the US capital and 100 square blocks were sealed to traffic.
  • Los Angeles has the largest skid row in the nation, stretching across 50 square blocks.
  • There are roughly 9,000 junkies in 30 square blocks in Vancouver's downtown eastside.
1.7 historical A body of infantry drawn up in rectangular form.
Example sentences
  • Then for about 90 minutes the French made a series of fruitless attacks with unsupported cavalry on unbroken allied infantry squares.
  • The background of a raging battle with canons and cavalry assaulting squares of infantry soldiers left little doubt that this man had served under the Duke of Wellington.
1.8A unit of 100 square ft. used as a measure of flooring, roofing, etc.
2The product of a number multiplied by itself: a circle’s area is proportional to the square of its radius
More example sentences
  • Consider, for example, the Pythagorean theorem that the square on the hypotenuse of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides.
  • After giving further results of this type he gives his famous result that the distance that a body moves from rest under uniform acceleration is proportional to the square of the time taken.
  • In other words, the square on the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares on the triangle's two legs.
3An L-shaped or T-shaped instrument used for obtaining or testing right angles: a carpenter’s square
More example sentences
  • Hold a carpenter's square with the long tongue against the back wall and slide it into the corner.
  • Be sure, therefore, that each line is running exactly along each arm of the square.
  • Then mark the ends of the joists at this point and draw a line across them with a combination square.
3.1 Astrology An aspect of 90° (one quarter of a circle): Venus in square to Jupiter
More example sentences
  • Yet he actually had Neptune in square to Jupiter!
  • Sirius was in square to the Moon and also to Mercury in the 8th house, while Procyon was in square to Venus in the 8th.
  • His Venus was in square from Gemini, sign of plurality, or at least duality.
4 informal A person considered to be old-fashioned or boringly conventional in attitude or behavior.
Example sentences
  • He's a plodding, conventional square, she's a get-ahead, modern girl who doesn't need to cling to conventional wisdom.
  • Come on Maggie: don't be such a square.
  • She called me so many things … she said I was old-fashioned, stubborn and a square for not allowing her to go.
(old) fogey, conservative, traditionalist, conformist, bourgeois, fossil
informal stick-in-the-mud, fuddy-duddy, prig, stuffed shirt
5North American informal A square meal: three squares a day
More example sentences
  • Mine was a lousy job. There must be a better way of making three squares a day.
  • The concept of three squares a day is obsolete: the new theory calls for several smaller meals to keep your metabolism churning.
  • My crew is pretty lucky, though - I like to see they get three squares a day.


1Having the shape or approximate shape of a square: a square table
More example sentences
  • There are both round and square tables with excellent access for wheelchairs and walking frames.
  • He sat down at the small, square table across from her, chuckling a little.
  • In the middle of the room was a large square table.
quadrilateral, rectangular, oblong, right-angled, at right angles, perpendicular;
straight, level, parallel, horizontal, upright, vertical, true, plane
1.1Having the shape or approximate shape of a cube: a square box
More example sentences
  • He handed me a square flat black box with a white ribbon.
  • With a light shake of his head, Michael laughed and drained the last of his Coke, square ice cubes clinking against the clear glass.
  • There was at least one other pocket watch that he could see, and several wristwatches, and square jeweler's boxes in worn blue and green velvet.
1.2Having or in the form of two right angles: a suitable length of wood with square ends
More example sentences
  • Failing to make your foundation square is the easiest way to have an awful time building a greenhouse.
  • No angle is square, so it's more time consuming and is much more expensive.
  • Take the optical cable that came with your MD Recorder and plug the square end into your sound card.
1.3Having an outline resembling two corners of a square: his square jaw
More example sentences
  • You can see the determination in the square outline of his jaw, the jutting staunchness of his features.
  • Certainly, with his impressive build and square jaw, McConaughey looks like he could take on Matt Damon and Ben Affleck simultaneously without breaking a sweat.
  • He has a square jaw, a scar above his top lip and a gold stud in his left nostril.
1.4Broad and solid in shape: he was short and square
More example sentences
  • She had a square face and long broad facial features.
  • His solid, square face is red from the cold air outside, and when he bends down to kiss Cynthia she pulls back from his cold lips, laughing.
  • The warden was a tall, square woman with broad shoulders and a horsey face.
2Denoting a unit of measurement equal to the area of a square whose side is of the unit specified: 30,000 square feet of new gallery space
More example sentences
  • It has been estimated that an individual polar bear will cover an area equal to 259,000 square kilometres during its lifetime.
  • Real estate agents said the four units have a total floor area of about 5,700 square feet.
  • The two-storey Victorian property has 242 square metres of living space.
2.1 [postpositive] Denoting the length of each side of a square shape or object: the office was fifteen feet square
More example sentences
  • They were clinging to a rock about 4 metres square and barely one metre above the sea.
  • He had begun work on a small cabin, approximately twelve to thirteen feet square.
  • At present our sports hall is tiny - about nine metres square.
3At right angles; perpendicular: these lines must be square to the top and bottom marked edges
More example sentences
  • Tack the lower two boards directly to your workbench to help hold the jig square.
  • Nail a temporary brace diagonally across the unit to keep it square and stable.
  • The doorframe must be as square as possible, so that the door seals tightly to the jamb and swings properly.
3.1 Astrology Having or denoting an aspect of 90°: Jupiter is square to the Sun
More example sentences
  • The main significators, Sun and Saturn, are beginning to separate from a square aspect.
  • It is in square aspect to the Sun and Mercury in Scorpio, which occupy the ninth house.
  • Your Mars also receives a square aspect from your Moon, which is important.
4Level or parallel: place one piece of wood on top of the other, ensuring that they are exactly square
More example sentences
  • Keep your hips square to the ceiling, and try to avoid letting your pelvis rotate.
  • Use the 3-4 - 5 triangle technique to check that your lines are perfectly square.
4.1Properly arranged; in good order: we should get everything square before we leave
More example sentences
  • You can't omit people and then act like we'll just start like everything is square and even when, in fact, it was not and is not.
4.2Compatible or in agreement: he wanted to make sure we were square with the court’s decision and not subject to a lawsuit
4.3Fair and honest: she’d been as square with him as anybody could be
More example sentences
  • I guess that I should be square with you too.
  • We don't know who she is, she's got no reason to be square with us.
  • It's the beginning of an attempt to be straight and square with the American people.
fair, honest, just, equitable, straight, true, upright, aboveboard, ethical, decent, proper
informal on the level
5(Of two people) owing nothing to each other: an acknowledgment that we are square
More example sentences
  • So in my eyes, we're square. All debts settled.
  • ‘I need you to do one more thing for me,’ Xavier said. ‘Then we're square.’
5.1With both players or sides having equal scores in a game: the goal brought the match all square once again
More example sentences
  • It seems to have escaped the attention of certain parts of the BBC that we are all square with two tests still to play.
  • Andy Day had given them the lead with a 40-yard shot into the top corner, but by the half-time whistle it was all square as the Swans replied with a Scott strike.
  • Wilsden then equalised from a corner to make it all square at the break.
level, even, drawn, equal, tied;
neck and neck, nip and tuck, side by side, evenly matched
informal even-steven(s)
6 informal Old-fashioned or boringly conventional: Elvis was anything but square
More example sentences
  • From now on, he would no longer be boring old Harry the square Republican.
  • I was reminded of a study that suggests children who develop a fascination with celebrities are likely to be more popular and better adjusted than their squarer peers.
  • I think he was either too square or too hip to even know who Mike Read was.
old-fashioned, behind the times, out of date, conservative, traditionalist, conventional, conformist, bourgeois, strait-laced, fogeyish, stuffy
informal stick-in-the-mud, fuddy-duddy
7(Of rhythm) simple and straightforward.
Example sentences
  • The opening sinfonia for strings and trombones is remarkably like several opera overtures of the time, with square rhythms.
  • At a time when recordings are showing the virtues of an airy, singer-centered style in Handel, the old square rhythm is hard to support.


1Directly; straight: it hit me square in the forehead
More example sentences
  • Sheldon grabbed a piece of wood, twisted her body around and hit the man square in the face.
  • I punched him square in the face, but he did not let go.
  • He turns around and kicks the photographer square in the forehead.
1.1 informal Fairly; honestly: I’d acted square and on the level with him
More example sentences
  • He had a couple of thousands to invest, and would give me a good commission if I acted square with him.


[with object]
1Make square or rectangular; give a square or rectangular cross section to: you can square off the other edge
More example sentences
  • The island is particularly well known for its whaling boats, pointed at both ends (most Caribbean boats have squared keels) and up to about thirty feet long.
  • The trigger is gently curved and smooth, as all good double action triggers should be, and the front of the trigger guard is squared slightly and grooved.
  • Cut the roll into six equal pieces and square off the ends.
1.1 (usually as adjective squared) Mark out in squares.
Example sentences
  • One-third of the island's population converges daily into Fort-de-France, whose narrow symmetrically squared streets are as congested during the day as they are empty at night.
  • Try to copy one of the designs on squared paper in such a way that each unit square has only one colour.
2Multiply (a number) by itself: 5 squared equals 25
More example sentences
  • If you square the radius times the pi, you will get the circle's space.
  • Such a sequence consists of the remainders, or residues, after squaring consecutive whole numbers, then dividing them by a given prime number.
  • ‘When air traffic doubles, the risk of collision is squared,’ he said.
2.1 [usually as postpositive adjective] (squared) Convert (a linear unit of measurement) to a unit of area equal to a square whose side is of the unit specified: there were only three people per kilometer squared
More example sentences
  • It occupies a continental surface area of 27,791,810 km squared.
  • The average heat loss from a single glazed window is 5 watts per metre squared.
  • Surface gravity is just under nine meters per second squared.
3Make compatible; reconcile: I’m able to square my profession with my religious beliefs
More example sentences
  • How will she square this with her conscience?
  • All this and yet no one had the nerve to stand up and publicly ask the deceitful politician how he squared his public policy positions with his private life?
  • He is asked how he can square the bellicose God of the Old Testament with his ideas on peace and love.
3.1 [no object] Be compatible: do those announcements really square with the facts?
More example sentences
  • Although the losses have been severe, the charge that those jobs were eliminated by foreign competition simply doesn't square with the facts.
  • Sometimes well-corroborated theories have had to be rejected because they failed to square with newly available evidence.
  • Somehow that doesn't square with his kinship with Martin Luther King.
agree, tally, be in agreement, be consistent, match up, correspond, fit, coincide, accord, conform, be compatible
4Balance (an account): they’re anxious to square their books before the audit
More example sentences
  • Austin promised Telenor a consultancy invoice to square their accounts.
  • Punishment was meted out to suit the offense; once it had been administered, the account was squared, and no wise clan lord or war leader continued to hold the past against his followers.
  • If the other pitcher threw at one of your players, then you had to square the account.
4.1Make the score of (a match or game) even: [with object and complement]: his goal squared the match 1-1
More example sentences
  • The Swede, one of the top putters on the European tour, missed another four-foot birdie on the 12th that would have squared the match.
  • Twist, the number one seed, missed a great chance to square the match at 8-8.
  • By his own standards, Bowe struggled at times but he did produce a magnificent birdie when most needed at the testing 17th to square the match.
level, even, make equal
4.2 informal Secure the help, acquiescence, or silence of (someone), especially by offering an inducement: trying to square the press
More example sentences
  • It is an attempt to square their own backbenchers, but they have failed to satisfy them and we are now set for a battle royal.
  • There was a time that, when a French president spoke - as long as the Germans were squared (and they usually were by the Franco-German axis) - he could presume to speak for the EU.
  • Reynaud therefore decided that it would be necessary to get rid of both men, and he spent the following weeks squaring political heavyweights so as to isolate Daladier.
5Bring (one’s shoulders) into a position in which they appear square and broad, typically to prepare oneself for a difficult task or event: chin up, shoulders squared, she stepped into the room
More example sentences
  • At the mention of such a grown-up task, Alex squared his shoulders and assented that yes, he had protected his mother from all sorts of dangers while his father was away.
  • Sighing, I squared my shoulders and prepared myself for the nightmare soon to commence.
  • At first Lydia was uncomfortable, but then she seemed to square her shoulders and prepare herself.
5.1 (square oneself) Adopt a posture of defense.
Example sentences
  • Charlie squared himself in front of Jackson.
  • Peabody squared himself up like some fresh fight was just about to commence.
6 Sailing Set (a yard or other part of a ship) approximately at right angles to the keel or other point of reference.
7 Astrology (Of a planet) have a square aspect with (another planet or position): Saturn squares the Sun on the 17th
More example sentences
  • Most of the charts had a square to the Moon and the planet squaring the Moon was Pluto or Uranus.
  • It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon.
  • As it squares your natal moon in Scorpio, anything that affects your moon-ruled Cancer placements - sun, Mercury and Saturn - will hit you rather hard.



back to (or at) square one

informal Back to where one started, with no progress having been made.
Example sentences
  • The minute I finished my treatment I was back to square one, and they say they don't have anything else that I can do.
  • Having spent all summer to earn money to put yourself through college, Christmas comes and goes and you find yourself back to square one.
  • I think that the prosecution and the police have gone back to square one.

on the square

1 informal Honest; straightforward.
Example sentences
  • I'm not going to throw you over. I've always been on the square with you.
2 informal Honestly; fairly.
Example sentences
  • How many local councils are riddled with freemasonry? At how many appointments are the best men…passed over because they are not on the square?
3At right angles.

out of square

Not at right angles.
Example sentences
  • A representative from the window supplier inspected the problem and said the windows were out of square and needed to be shimmed.
  • In many older houses, walls can be out of square and floors out of level.
  • The installer should be alert to an out of rack condition that can be caused by allowing the floor to get out of square.

square accounts with


square the circle

Construct a square equal in area to a given circle (a problem incapable of a purely geometric solution).
Example sentences
  • This was the age when people were still optimistic of squaring the circle by a geometrical construction.
  • The problem of squaring the circle, namely constructing a square with the same area as a given circle using ruler and compasses alone, had been one of the classical problems of Greek mathematics.
  • While in prison he tried to solve the problem of squaring the circle, that is constructing with ruler and compasses a square with area equal to that of a given circle.
5.1Do something that is considered to be impossible.
Example sentences
  • In the run-up to the 2001 election, I wrote suggesting that the Tories could square the circle of higher spending on health and education with the tax cuts that had been in the party's DNA since 1979.
  • The author of Fear Of Flying - a mother who regrets having only one child and a veteran of four marriages who has spent her life trying to square the circle of feminism, career and family - is scared by what she sees around her.
  • When the original idea of foundation hospitals emerged, it was a genuinely bold attempt to square the circle of a taxpayer funded health service, entrepreneurialism, efficiency and patient choice.

a square peg in a round hole

see peg.

Phrasal verbs


square something away

North American Arrange or deal with something in a satisfactory way: don’t you worry, we’ll get things squared away
More example sentences
  • With business itself, most of the key industry groups were squared away privately during and immediately after the deal's negotiation.
  • So we took matters into our own hands and booked another flight ourselves, figuring that we could square things away with ATA after we got back home.
  • You know our stand on supplements - they work well, but only after your diet is squared away.

square off

Assume the attitude of a person about to fight: the two men squared off figurative a debate gives the candidates an opportunity to square off
More example sentences
  • He was in his element, playing the role he relishes the most: the little guy squaring up for a fight with the establishment.
  • The nominations have been confirmed and the gloves are off - the candidates for next month's National Assembly elections are squaring up for their May 1st showdown.
  • The Department of State and the Pentagon are squaring up for the kind of power struggle that hasn't been seen since George Schultz and Casper Weinberger.

square up

Settle or pay an account: would you square up the bill?
More example sentences
  • Unfortunately for Peregrine, investors' interest in the bonds disappeared when the financial crisis broke and it was unable to square its position.
  • Although it did recover its poise for a time, it fell away towards the close as traders decided to square any outstanding positions.
  • Later, as we enjoyed a complimentary drink back at the cabin while we squared up the bill, he attempted his first bit of chitchat with me.
pay, settle, discharge, clear, meet
3.1Settle a dispute or misunderstanding: I want to square up whatever’s wrong between us
More example sentences
  • Irrespective of what is coming down the line a few basic issues need to be squared up to in this new forum the Agriculture Minister has summoned to re-examine the state of the industry.
  • That's a long-term issue that we still have to square up to.
  • It is a fight he has had to square up to before but in the past it was the fans he had to win over.



Pronunciation: /ˈskwernəs/
Example sentences
  • His career went into a tailspin as the children of the '60s rejected squareness.
  • Although Nadia has a wide forehead and a slightly pointed chin, because her face narrows around her cheekbones her face shape would be most likely classified as heart-shaped with a touch of squareness.
  • The problem is that Ross often misinterprets the appeal of retro entertainment, ignoring the sophistication of the classics while exaggerating their squareness.


Pronunciation: /ˈskwerər/


Example sentences
  • Grill rashers of smoked streaky bacon until crisp and cut into small squarish pieces.
  • The site is squarish, sloping from north to south, on a corner of two roads in an area where nineteenth- and twentieth-century villas are scattered lightly through the woods.
  • The canvas is covered with squarish patches of paint, a lot of them light blue but also greens, yellows, oranges and reds.


Middle English: shortening of Old French esquare (noun), esquarre (past participle, used as an adjective), esquarrer (verb), based on Latin quadra 'square'.

  • A word that comes via Old French esquare from Latin quadra ‘square’. Squad (mid 17th century) and squadron (mid 16th century), which originally meant a group of soldiers in square formation, come via French from the Italian form squadra. The rather odd term a square meal is sometimes said to derive from the square wooden platters on which meals were served on board ship. More likely, though, is that (as with ‘square deal’ and ‘fair and square’) square simply suggests something that is ‘honest’, ‘straightforward’, or ‘right’, with the additional idea that it has been solidly or properly constructed. The word was used since the 17th century to mean ‘honourable, upright’, which gave us the square person who is old-fashioned or boringly conventional. To square the circle is to do something impossible. The phrase refers to the mathematical problem of constructing a square equal in area to a given circle, a problem which cannot be solved by purely geometrical means, though this has not stopped mathematicians from the ancient Greeks onwards from trying to solve the puzzle. The use of square up in reference to a person about to fight comes from the typical posture adopted, with the shoulders back and the fists held out at right angles. It is first found in the 1820s.

Words that rhyme with square

affair, affaire, air, Altair, Althusser, Anvers, Apollinaire, Astaire, aware, Ayer, Ayr, bare, bear, bêche-de-mer, beware, billionaire, Blair, blare, Bonaire, cafetière, care, chair, chargé d'affaires, chemin de fer, Cher, Clair, Claire, Clare, commissionaire, compare, concessionaire, cordon sanitaire, couvert, Daguerre, dare, debonair, declare, derrière, despair, doctrinaire, éclair, e'er, elsewhere, ensnare, ere, extraordinaire, Eyre, fair, fare, fayre, Finisterre, flair, flare, Folies-Bergère, forbear, forswear, foursquare, glair, glare, hair, hare, heir, Herr, impair, jardinière, Khmer, Kildare, La Bruyère, lair, laissez-faire, legionnaire, luminaire, mal de mer, mare, mayor, meunière, mid-air, millionaire, misère, Mon-Khmer, multimillionaire, ne'er, Niger, nom de guerre, outstare, outwear, pair, pare, parterre, pear, père, pied-à-terre, Pierre, plein-air, prayer, questionnaire, rare, ready-to-wear, rivière, Rosslare, Santander, savoir faire, scare, secretaire, share, snare, solitaire, Soufrière, spare, stair, stare, surface-to-air, swear, Tailleferre, tare, tear, their, there, they're, vin ordinaire, Voltaire, ware, wear, Weston-super-Mare, where, yeah

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: square

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.