Turn the tables

Turn the tables is an idiom that has been in use for about 400 years. We will examine the meaning of the idiom turn the tables, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

To turn the tables means to reverse fortunes, to cause the dominant adversary to become the weaker participant and the weaker participant to become the dominant one. For instance, if a baseball team’s score is behind their opponent’s score and they suddenly drive in several runs that put their score higher than their opponent, they may be said to have turned the tables. The expression turn the tables comes from backgammon and related games that were once called tables games. If one turned the tables, he reversed the fortunes of the players; the person who was winning became the one who was losing, and vice versa. Related phrases are turns the tables, turned the tables, turning the tables.

Examples

Trainer Tony Pike doesn’t have to think too far back to find a reason Loire can turn the tables on Jennifer Eccles in the New Zealand Oaks at Trentham tomorrow. (The New Zealand Herald)

VERITY’S PLOT Hollyoaks’ Verity will ‘turn the tables’ on evil dad Edward as she works to get Tony’s marriage to Diane back on track (The Sun)

THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION on Wednesday tried to turn the tables on a prisoner who alleged the agency violated his civil rights and assaulted him by accusing the inmate of attacking officers during a cell search by a tactical team. (CommonWealth Magazine)

Through these brief incidents, Swift pokes fun at what she considers to be masculine norms and highlights the double standard women face by turning the tables. (Michigan Daily)