turn the tables


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turn the tables

To change or reverse something dramatically. Wow, they really turned the tables on their opponents after the intermission. The score went from 0-3 to 5-3!
See also: table, turn

turn the tables (on someone)

Fig. to cause a reversal in someone's plans; to make one's plans turn back on one. I went to Jane's house to help get ready for a surprise party for Bob. It turned out that the surprise party was for me! Jane really turned the tables on me! Turning the tables like that requires a lot of planning and a lot of secrecy.
See also: table, turn

turn the tables

Reverse a situation and gain the upper hand, as in Steffi won their previous three matches but today Mary turned the tables and prevailed. This expression alludes to the former practice of reversing the table or board in games such as chess, thereby switching the opponents' positions. [c. 1600]
See also: table, turn

turn the tables

COMMON If you turn the tables, you gain an advantage over someone or cause them problems, after a time when they have had an advantage over you or have been causing problems for you. The Prime Minister will want to turn the tables on his many enemies in the republics and give them something to worry about for a change. We managed to turn the tables with a fantastic win over their team. Note: You can also say the tables are turned if a situation changes so that a different person or group has an advantage. All of a sudden the tables are turned, and instead of being the person watching, he becomes the person that's being watched. Note: The image here is of a player in a game such as chess turning the board through 180 degrees, so that the situations of the two players are reversed.
See also: table, turn

turn the tables

reverse your position relative to someone else, especially by turning a position of disadvantage into one of advantage.
Until the mid 18th century, tables was the usual name for the board game backgammon. Early instances of the use of this phrase, dating from the mid 17th century, make it clear that it comes from the practice of turning the board so that a player had to play what had previously been their opponent's position.
See also: table, turn

turn the ˈtables (on somebody)

do something which means that you now have an advantage over somebody who previously had an advantage over you: They beat us 3-0 last year, but we turned the tables on them this year — we won 5-0.
If two people are playing a board game on a table and then one of them turns the table around, the two players will exchange positions in the game so that the person who was losing will now be winning.
See also: table, turn

turn the tables, to

To reverse the situation between two persons or groups, especially so as to gain the upper hand. This term comes from the custom of reversing the table or board in games like chess and draughts, so that the opponents’ relative positions are switched. It was being used figuratively as long ago as 1612, when George Chapman wrote (The Widow’s Tears, 1.3), “I may turn the tables with you ere long.” Another cliché with the same meaning is turnabout is fair play, which dates from the nineteenth century. Robert Louis Stevenson used it in one of his last works, The Wrecker (1892): “You had your chance then; seems to me it’s mine now. Turn about’s fair play.”
See also: turn