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catch a tartar To experience a reversal of expectations, particularly in dealing with another person; to find intractable one anticipated to be docile; to meet one’s match, often specifically to marry a shrew.
What a Tartar have I caught!
(John Dry den, Kind Keeper, 1678)
By extension the phrase may mean to have a bargain backfire, an advantage prove a liability, a gift becomes a curse, and similar reversals.
Frankenstein monster An invention or other creation that eventually works against or kills its creator; something that backfires or boomerangs. The expression comes from Mary Shelley’s famous work Frankenstein (1818), in which the notorious monster turned against and destroyed its maker, Dr. Frankenstein. The phrase is used figuratively to describe a project or undertaking begun with good intentions, but which ultimately develops into an uncontrollable agent of destruction or evil.
Is Great Britain creating for herself something of a Frankenstein monster on the Nile? (Saturday Review, April, 1907)
hoist with one’s own petard To be defeated by a plan that backfires; to be caught in one’s own trap. In this expression, petard refers to an ancient, short-fuzed time bomb or grenade. Obviously, a soldier who placed the charge was endangered not only by enemy fire, but also by the exploding petard if he did not get away soon enough or if the fuze were faulty. So many soldiers were killed by exploding petards that the expression came into widespread literal, and later, figurative, use.
Let it work;
For tis sport, to have the engineer
Hoist with his own petard; and it
shall go hard
But I will delve one yard below
And blow them at the moon.
(Shakespeare, Hamlet, III, iv)
my Venus turns out a whelp An expression formerly used on experiencing a reversal of expectations, a failure instead of the anticipated success. The expression comes from dice: the highest roll, three sixes, was called a Venus; the lowest, three aces, a canis (dog). The aptness was reinforced by the association of Venus with beauty and divinity, and of whelp with cur and mongrel.
the shoe is on the other foot The situation is reversed. This expression, with its obvious allusion, is most often used in reference to a certain poetic justice that results from the exchange or reversal of disparate roles: the controller becomes the controlled, the oppressor becomes the oppressed, the critic becomes the criticized, and so on.
Recently, much to British chagrin, the shoe was on the other foot. (The Nation, March 17, 1945)
the tables are turned The situation is completely reversed, roles have been switched, positions interchanged; the exact opposite is now the case. The tables in this expression refers to the playing boards which, in certain games, are fully turned round, so that the relative positions of the adversaries are reversed. The phrase often implies that one now enjoys (or suffers) the perspective formerly held by an opponent. The following citation shows both figurative application and literal derivation:
Whosoever thou art that dost another wrong, do but turn the tables: imagine thy neighbour were now playing thy game, and thou his. (Bishop Robert Sanderson, Sermons, 1634)
It also illustrates the active use of the phrase, somewhat less common today, turn tables or turn the tables on.
turn the tide To reverse the current trend of events, especially from one extreme to the other; to turn the tables. Tide (literally the ebb and flow of the ocean waters) is used here figuratively to represent the course or direction in which any matter or concern is moving.
ugly duckling A homely or unpromising child who blossoms into a beautiful or accomplished adult; anything appearing to lack redeeming qualities that subsequently proves worthy of respect and notice. This expression comes from Hans Christian Andersen’s Ugly Duckling, in which the title character, after struggling through a year of ridicule and hardship, develops into a glorious white swan. While the expression retains its human applications, it is also used for an inanimate object that is initially thought to be worthless but later proves to be a windfall. This figurative use of the phrase was illustrated by W. O. Douglas, as cited in Webster’s Third:
From the beginning Alaska was treated pretty much as our ugly duckling.
|Noun||1.||reversal - a change from one state to the opposite state; "there was a reversal of autonomic function"|
change of state - the act of changing something into something different in essential characteristics
|2.||reversal - an unfortunate happening that hinders or impedes; something that is thwarting or frustrating|
whammy - a serious or devastating setback
|3.||reversal - turning in an opposite direction or position; "the reversal of the image in the lens"|
|4.||reversal - a decision to reverse an earlier decision|
deciding, decision making - the cognitive process of reaching a decision; "a good executive must be good at decision making"
|5.||reversal - a judgment by a higher court that the judgment of a lower court was incorrect and should be set aside|
judicial decision, judgment, judgement - (law) the determination by a court of competent jurisdiction on matters submitted to it
law, jurisprudence - the collection of rules imposed by authority; "civilization presupposes respect for the law"; "the great problem for jurisprudence to allow freedom while enforcing order"
affirmation - a judgment by a higher court that the judgment of a lower court was correct and should stand
|6.||reversal - turning in the opposite direction |
change of direction, reorientation - the act of changing the direction in which something is oriented
u-turn - complete reversal of direction of travel
|7.||reversal - the act of reversing the order or place of|
reordering - a rearrangement in a different order
|8.||reversal - a major change in attitude or principle or point of view; "an about-face on foreign policy"|
change - the action of changing something; "the change of government had no impact on the economy"; "his change on abortion cost him the election"
undoing - an act that makes a previous act of no effect (as if not done)