play (someone) off against (someone)

(redirected from play him off against)

play (someone) off against (someone)

To manipulate two opposing sides of an argument, conflict, competition, etc., against one another for one's own benefit or advantage. My father and my uncle are engaged in a bitter business rivalry. If I can play them off against each other, I might be able to secure some sizeable investments for my own company. Janet has been playing Mary off against her boyfriend, Mike, so that Janet can date him herself. Don't you see? They've been playing us off against each other so that there's less competition for them to deal with.
See also: off, play

play someone off against (someone else)

to scheme in a manner that pits two of your adversaries against one another. Bill wanted to beat me up and so did Bob. I did some fast talking, and they ended up fighting with each other. I really played Bill off against Bob. The president played the House off against the Senate and ended up getting his own way.
See also: off, play
References in periodicals archive ?
"Varghese would do well to retain Dunphy's interest rather than play him off against someone else," added Wood.
It's why I often play him off against his arch enemy, Cafferty.
However, the young lama admitted he had begun to suspect the Chinese might want to play him off against Tibet's most holy leader, the Dalai Lama.
Alvin Nunnally noted that in order for the union to succeed, "we have got to have the Negro with us otherwise the big planters will play him off against us and us against him and we will both be kept down in the ditch." According to H.L.