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. © 2015 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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References in periodicals archive ?
The competitors play tricks by waving a bright shroud to agitate the bulls.
The Bible doesn't play tricks, it speaks the plain truth."
When they are hungry and dehydrated, their brains play tricks on them and they think they see sumptuous meals.
In Memory, 1994/2000, the camera's orientation and the deployment of objects on screen play tricks with viewers' expectations about gravity: Water streams upward, objects fall horizontally, up turns out to be down, and down is sideways.
These chemicals have also been shown to play tricks on the endocrine system by acting like a natural hormone or by blocking normal hormone functions.
Your brain may even play tricks with the signals you get from your tastebuds to make you think you're tasting what you see.
Witness Dynamo (right) - real name Steven Frayne - play tricks on members of the public as well as game celebrities including Keith Lemon, Damon Albarn and Coldplay's Chris Martin.
Modern day witches, pretentious creatures, Walk together with ghoulish features, Reliving All Hallows Eve which was said, Was the time hunger awakened the dead, Tormented souls arrived to play tricks, Frightening the living just for kicks.
"When you are in darkness, your mind can play tricks on you and there is something quite scary about not being able to see your surroundings."
The laugh-out loud production follows the fortunes of four lovers who run off to the countryside where mysterious woodland creatures play tricks on them with hilarious results.
A bit more up to date today and sometimes the more recent events can play tricks on the memory.
The first year students from all over Wales researched and planned the performances as part of their BA Theatre course creating characters who play tricks upon and have fun with visitors to the Eisteddfod.
Do you and the other judges ever play tricks on the girls or on each other to keep things interesting?
"My son Finn was very good because your mind can play tricks on you but he was very calm.
They smell because they never wash, they fight because they play tricks on each other, AND they hate children.