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Turn the tables

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on November 29, 2007

In Reply to: Turn the tables posted by Bruce Kahl on November 29, 2007

: : Re 'Turn the tables' - I was told by someone who seemed to be well-informed that this originates from the days when the top of the table had 2 sides for use - one you would prepare the meal on and this was rough and then you would turn the table - use the good polished side to serve the meal on. Any thoughts / knowledge / comments?

: See the link below.

It is true that 16th and 17th century refectory tables did have unfixed tops which could be turned over to use either the rough or the smooth polished side. Unfortunately, a couple of decades ago some ignorant historic-house tour guide appears to have looked at one of these tables and said "Ooh, that must be the origin of the saying "turn the tables!" - which is not true. (Some tour guides gild the lily by saying that it's also the origin of the saying "take the rough with the smooth" - equally untrue.) (VSD)