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Fast and Loose

(To play). To run with the hare and hold with the hounds; to blow both hot and cold; to say one thing and do another. The allusion is to a cheating game practised at fairs. A belt is folded, and the player is asked to prick it with a skewer, so as to pin it fast to the table; having so done, the adversary takes the two ends, and looses it or draws it away, showing that it has not been pierced at all.

He forced his neck into a noose,
To show his play at fast and loose;
And when he chanced t'escape, mistook,
For art and subtlety, his luck.

Butler: Hudibras, iii. 2.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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