turn the tables


turn the tables


  • change your position with respect to someone else.
  • turning an unfavorable circumstance into one of favor.
  • to make one’s plan turn back on them.
  • causing one’s plans to be reversed.

Examples in Sentences

  1. After flying back to town, I went to Jenna’s place uninformed to surprise her & to my amaze she had already planned a party to welcome me. I should have known she is smart enough to turn the tables.
  2. The businessman who was on the verge of bankruptcy turned the tables when he won a million dollars in a casino with a few thousand he had.
  3. The activist held a seminar for people to turn the tables on government employees who ask for bribery.
  4. Aria, who had been accused of infringement by her competitor, turned the tables on him by presenting proof of her innocence at the last moment.
  5. It is easy to turn the tables on your rival. You just have to act witty and know their weaknesses.


Until the medieval 18th century, tables were usually used for the board game backgammon. This phrase was earlier used during the mid-17th century, making it significant that it originates from the practise of turning the board so that a player would play at the position that was previously that of their competitor.

Share your opinions4 Opinions

And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “it is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”
Matthew 21: 12-13

This is where I believe the idiom “turning the tables” originates from.

Jesus had just triumphantly entered the city of Jerusalem heralded as a king. And his first display of authority was to return true worship to God’s temple. This revolutionary move of reclaiming the temple changed everything for Jesus and his relationship with the Jews.
It was his only violent act that eventually lead to his death and mankinds salvation.
A true turning of the tide.

‒ Tendai October 12, 2022

Definitely nothing to do with Donald Trump. His impeachment did not succeed because it was not supported by enough Republicans.

‒ Margaret March 16, 2021

I was told that turning the tables came from times when the table was used to prepare food and then turned over to the polished side to eat the food (a quote coming from the guide in Anne Hathaway’s cottage Stratford On Avon).

‒ Andy Hobson November 19, 2020

Donald Trump who had been accused of impeachment by his competitor, turned the tables on them by presenting the proof of his innocence at the last moment.

‒ Kaeliean November 11, 2020

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