play musical chairs

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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

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

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
References in periodicals archive ?
Hadn't these paragons of democracy been eating off the fat of the land all these decades, taking turns, "playing musical chairs" as Imran called it, and making us pay for all of it?
Feeling like you are playing musical chairs with a robot for your job is not a great motivator!
Having taken office after two decades of successive Japanese leaders playing musical chairs, he has delivered a remarkable period of stability.
Batting off Rob's jokes about playing musical chairs, Fergal barrels on, putting in requests for extras like "black, masculine balloons".
With designers playing musical chairs and moving from one brand to another, it's not unlikely that we will be seeing clothes that look like more of the same.
He has imitated his grandfather by gaining weight and smoking cigarettes to portray himself as an experienced ruthless butcher, killing his uncle and playing musical chairs with his subordinates.
The 35-year-old said the plan was to stop the 'PKR family' of Dr Wan Azizah and her daughter, Nurul Izzah Anwar, from swapping seats as if playing musical chairs.
Before the competing teams were introduced to fans, the Globetrotters mascot came out to the court and warmed up the crowd by playing musical chairs with some of the children in attendance, and by competing in a dance-off with the master of ceremonies.
* Female FAs Tired of Playing Musical Chairs: Ann Hughes
I also enjoyed Matisse the BGT dog getting bored waiting for Greg James to announce the Comedy winner and trotting y back to Jules in the wings, Chris Eubank walking backwards off stage and Holly Willoughby playing musical chairs with Keith Lemon and Phillip Schofield.
Despite playing musical chairs at quarterback since Marcus Mariota left for the NFL, Oregon is currently tied with California for No.
For main courses it's like playing musical chairs around civilization's seminal sea -- where the music stops, you order something.
This they heard even from him and Benazir Bhutto volubly when they were playing musical chairs in the power game.