I checked "to doctor" in Longman Dictionary and it means:

  • to dishonestly change something in order to gain an advantage.

  • to add something harmful to food or drink

  • to remove part of the sex organs of an animal to

  • to give someone medical treatment, especially when you are not a doctor.

I think the first meaning fits with the phrase but I am not sure.

Could you please tell me what the meaning of:

"He doctored the books"

The full text:

Shawn drove for days with little sleep, navigating our fifty-foot trailer as if it were his own arm. He doctored the books whenever we crossed a checkpoint, to make it seem he was getting more sleep than he was. Every other day we stopped to shower and eat a meal that wasn’t dried fruit and granola.

  • 6
    Colin's answer is spot on, but for a bit of added context, note that the idioms "doctor the books" and "cook the books" (which are synonymous) are most often used in the context of dishonest financial accounting.
    – Deepak
    May 14, 2018 at 1:56
  • 1
    So how'd you get from "dishonestly change something in order to gain an advantage" to "keep count"?
    – user3395
    May 20, 2018 at 20:09
  • @userr2684291 You are right. I had written it (keep count) before I recived the answers, so I ommited it now.
    – Peace
    May 21, 2018 at 7:05

2 Answers 2


No. It means "alter the records", usually falsifying or distorting information.

doctor (verb) to tamper with; falsify: He doctored the birthdate on his passport.

Dictionary.com, meaning 11


In many places truckers are limited in the number of hours they can drive in a day and are required to keep records of their driving. Depending on the country and/or type of vehicle these records may be either kept manually in a logbook or recorded by a device known of as a tachograph.

The authorities frequently stop trucks for inspection. Part of that inspection is the truck itself but part of it is checking the records to make sure that the driver is not driving an illegal number of hours.

To "doctor the books" means to falsify the records. In this context to adjust them so that the driver can pass inspection while driving an illegal number of hours.

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