DEFINITION of 'Belt And Suspenders'

A term used to mean conservatism and safety in lending practices. Belt and suspenders has been used to describe cautious bankers who demand loan policies be very strictly adhered to.

More generally - as the use of both a belt and suspenders to hold up one's pants implies - it can mean having redundant safety procedures in place to eliminate all risk. The term can be complimentary, but it also can convey ridicule of the overly conservative.

BREAKING DOWN 'Belt And Suspenders'

In his book The Right Word in the Right Place at the Right Time (2004), William Safire cited several examples of the use of belt and suspenders. He notes a sentence in the Dallas Morning News from 1987: "To qualify for the Scott Burns Belts and Suspender Bank List, a bank had to have primary equity capital amounting to at least 10% of its assets."

He also mentions a piece from the Wall Street Journal, in which Clinton policymaker Robert Rubin says "We'll be belts and suspenders with respect to those," regarding restrictions about lobbying the White House upon assuming his new banking job.

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