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a game of musical chairs

A situation in which people or things are moved, shuffled, or rearranged from one position to another. After the boss resigned, it was a regular game of musical chairs in the company to figure out who would take over for whom. It's been a game of musical chairs trying to create enough space in the living room for Alex's birthday party this weekend. The coach's sudden departure led to a game of musical chairs in the team's front office.
See also: chair, game, musical, of

accompany (one)

1. To travel with one. This phrase can be used in reference to both people and things. While I enjoy spending time alone, I sometimes wish I had someone to accompany me on vacations. Pete's dog was more than happy to accompany him to the park. My cell phone always accompanies me when I leave the house.
2. To play a musical instrument in support of a featured band or performer. While her little sister played the flute, Sarah accompanied her on the clarinet. Will you accompany me on piano when I sing at the talent show? No, you don't get a solo—you're just supposed to be accompanying me while I sing!
See also: accompany

musical beds

1. The act or instance of leaving one's own bed to go sleep beside one's child, or vice-versa, because the child needs one's company to sleep soundly. A reference to the children's game "musical chairs." We fell into some bad habits when our daughter was about a year old, and we've been playing musical beds with her almost every night for the past three years as a result. Any parent out there knows the sleepy resignation of having to play musical beds at 4 o'clock in the morning.
2. The act or instance of having sex with multiple partners, especially in a short space of time. A reference to the children's game "musical chairs." It seemed like everyone in the dorm rooms was playing musical beds—promiscuity and experimentation was just the name of the game in college.
See also: bed, musical

play musical chairs

1. Literally, to play the children's game known as "musical chairs," in which participants walk around a circle of chairs until the music stops and each person tries to sit on a chair. There are always fewer chairs than players, and the person who remains standing is removed from the game after each round, until only one remains. Mommy, can we play musical chairs at my birthday party?
2. To move, shuffle, or rearrange people from one position to another, as in a group or organization. After the boss resigned, everyone started playing musical chairs in the company to figure out who would take over for whom. We've been playing musical chairs trying to create enough space in the living room for Alex's birthday party this weekend.
See also: chair, musical, play
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

accompany someone on a musical instrument

to provide complementary instrumental music for someone's musical performance. Sally accompanied the singer on the piano.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

musical chairs, play

Move around from position to position, such as the jobs in an organization. For example, Bob took over for Tom, who took over for Mary, who got Bob's title-the boss loves to play musical chairs with the staff . This expression alludes to the children's game in which children walk around a number of seats while music plays, and there is one less chair than players. When the music stops the players must sit down, and the player who is left standing is eliminated. Then another chair is removed, and the game goes on until only one player is left sitting. [c. 1900]
See also: musical, play
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

musical beds

n. acts of sexual promiscuity; sleeping with many people. (From the name of the game musical chairs.) Mary has been playing musical beds for about a year.
See also: bed, musical
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

play musical chairs, to

To swap jobs, prospects, or decisions in a rapid, confusing fashion. The term comes from a children’s game, also called “going to Jerusalem,” in which the players march to music around a row of chairs where every other chair faces in the opposite direction. When the music stops, the players must sit down, but, there being one fewer chair than the number of players, one player cannot and is eliminated (along with one more chair). The name of the game was transferred to job changes within a corporation or other organization in the early twentieth century. Britain’s former prime minister, Sir Harold Wilson, played on it in his book, The Governance of Britain (1976): “Hence the practised performances of latter-day politicians in the game of musical daggers: never be left holding the dagger when the music stops.”
See also: musical, play, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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