A rhyming compound that means simply even i.e. nothing owed, or back to square one with no advantage to either party. Sometimes it can also mean neck-and-neck or equal, depending on the context. The origin is obscure. One source gives the origin as American from c. 1870 whereas Eric Partridge maintains that it is Canadian or Australian from the early 20th century and was adopted in Britain from the mid-20th century.