turn the tables

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turn the tables (on someone)

Fig. to cause a reversal in someone's plans; to make one's plans turn back on one. I went to Jane's house to help get ready for a surprise party for Bob. It turned out that the surprise party was for me! Jane really turned the tables on me! Turning the tables like that requires a lot of planning and a lot of secrecy.
See also: table, turn

turn the tables

Reverse a situation and gain the upper hand, as in Steffi won their previous three matches but today Mary turned the tables and prevailed. This expression alludes to the former practice of reversing the table or board in games such as chess, thereby switching the opponents' positions. [c. 1600]
See also: table, turn

turn the tables

COMMON If you turn the tables, you gain an advantage over someone or cause them problems, after a time when they have had an advantage over you or have been causing problems for you. The Prime Minister will want to turn the tables on his many enemies in the republics and give them something to worry about for a change. We managed to turn the tables with a fantastic win over their team. Note: You can also say the tables are turned if a situation changes so that a different person or group has an advantage. All of a sudden the tables are turned, and instead of being the person watching, he becomes the person that's being watched. Note: The image here is of a player in a game such as chess turning the board through 180 degrees, so that the situations of the two players are reversed.
See also: table, turn
References in classic literature ?
Now we'll turn the tables on the other fellows and see how they like it.