Turnabout is fair play

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Turnabout is fair play is a proverb with its roots in the mid-1700s. A proverb is a short, common saying or phrase that particularly gives advice or shares a universal truth. We will examine the definition of the phrase turnabout is fair play, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Turnabout is fair play is a proverb that means if someone has harmed you, it is permissible to retaliate in kind. Turnabout is fair play is used to justify paying back a real or perceived injury. The phrase turnabout is fair play originated in the mid-1700s in reference to gaming, meaning taking turns assures a fair game. At that time, turnabout was rendered as two words as in turn about. Today, the term has taken on the connotation of revenge or retaliation, in the sense of two parties taking equal advantage of each other. Occasionally, turnabout is fair play is used in a friendly, teasing manner as an admonishment to keep things fair and equal.


Since turnabout is fair play, it’s tempting to subject the left to the same tendentious excoriation to which it subjected the right six years ago. (The New York Times)

Turnabout is fair play, as Britney did a grimy demo of “Telephone,” written for her by Lady Gaga, who eventually took it back and recorded it with Bey. (Billboard Magazine)

So, if turnabout is fair play, some will conclude that the current “atmosphere of hate” engendered by a party that declares itself “the resistance” and charges that Republicans are in league with Moscow to destroy the American experiment in democracy, spend their time concocting ways to aid the wealthy at the expense of the poor and hate women, gays and every minority imaginable. (The Washington Post)