play a trick (on one)

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play a trick (on one)

1. To carry out a trick, deception, or practical joke (against one). It turns out that the supposed alien visitors that people had been seeing were just a bunch of teenagers playing tricks on the entire town. I've got a great plan to play a trick on the school for April Fools' Day. The fake article had been in print in the renowned scientific journal for more than a week before the author revealed that he was playing a trick when he decided to submit it.
2. Of one's sense organs, to present one with false or misleading information. I thought I saw someone looking at us through the window, but my eyes must have been playing a trick on me. A: "Did you say something to me?" B: "Nope. Your ears must be playing tricks on you."
See also: play, trick
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

play a trick on someone

 and play a prank on someone
to do a trick that affects someone. Somebody played a trick on me by hiding my shoes. The little boys planned to play a trick on their teacher by turning up the heat in the classroom.
See also: on, play, trick

play tricks on someone

1. Lit. to pull pranks on someone. You had better not play any tricks on me! Stop playing tricks on people!
2. Fig. [for something, such as the eyes] to deceive someone. Did I see him fall down or are my eyes playing tricks on me? My brain is playing tricks on me. I can't remember a word you said.
See also: on, play, trick
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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