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definition of the word cook_the_books

by the Wiktionnary

to cook the books

Third person singular
cooks the books

Simple past
cooked the books

Past participle
cooked the books

Present participle
cooking the books

to cook the books (third-person singular simple present cooks the books, present participle cooking the books, simple past and past participle cooked the books)

  1. (idiomatic) To manipulate accounting information, esp. illegally, by a corporation
    Enron Corp., once a major U.S. corporation, is now famous for cooking the books.

To cook the books is to falsify an account of an event, often a financial one. At first sight this may seem a strange combination, but it started its life in the mid-17th century, and thus it has endured. It is a metaphor for the act of cooking, whereby ingredients are changed, altered and improved by the process. Thus financial statements can also be so modified to the benefit of the 'cook'. Such a change, in a negative way, is also seen in the expression to 'cook someone's goose', thereby depriving the owner of the benefit of the animal, either alive or dead.

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