How the Turntables – Meaning, Origin, and Usage

If you’ve ever heard someone using the phrase ‘How the turntables’, no one can blame you for feeling confused about it. That’s because this isn’t the original saying. It’s actually a mispronunciation of a much more well known saying.

But if you’re still confused, there’s no need to worry, I’m going to lay it all out here for you. I’ll go through the meaning and the origin of the phrase. Then I’ll show you some examples of the phrase in use, before giving you some alternatives words and phrases you can use in its place, should you prefer to use them.

What is the Meaning of the Phrase ‘How the Turntables’?

The phrase ‘How the turntables’ means ‘I/we are now the one/s with the advantage’.

The phrase is often used in sports, games, and competitions. This isn’t the usual way the phrase is expressed, as it’s a misquote of a much more common phrase. However, this new phrase has come into common Western vernacular.

What is the Origin of the Phrase ‘How the Turntables’?

The phrase ‘How the turntables’ originated in the US TV hit show ‘The Office’. This was in Season 5, Episode 23, which first aired in the US in 2009.

It was a clear misquote of a much more common phrase, namely ‘How the tables have turned’, which is frequently used to describe how matters have reversed, usually in relation to one person or group being in a better position than the others. 

In ‘The Office’ the phrase ‘How the turntables’ is used by the character Michael Scott, played by Steve Carrell. He was trying to sound wise and profound, but he was inebriated with alcohol, and instead comes across as bumbling and awkward.

The original phrase, ‘How the tables have turned’ dates back to around the year 1612, when it was used in board games such as backgammon and chess. In these instances, if someone were to turn the board 180 degrees, the player who was winning would now have to play as the losing side and vice versa. It can be a fun way to play.

How do you Use the Phrase ‘How the Turntables’?

We don’t recommend using the phrase ‘How the turntables’ in a professional setting because it’s a direct misquote of what is meant by the phrase ‘How the tables have turned’.

Here are some examples of the phrase in use:

“Manchester United were in the lead, of course, but by some fluke or another Manchester City are now winning. ‘How the turntables!’”

“I thought she was a shoe-in for the team leader position, but now, ‘how the turntables’.”

“Wow, ‘How the turntables’! I knew after your run of bad luck things were bound to change – and change they certainly did.”

‘And just like that, we’re back in the driving seat, and we are going somewhere. How the turntables!’

‘I was going to apologise to him, but then I caught him cheating. Boy how the turntables!’

‘You may have been winning this far, but now the ball is in my corner, and I’ve got the game in the bag. It’s rather nice “how the turntables”!’

‘That was a bad move on your part. I’m at an advantage now. How the turntables!’

‘The competitor thought they were a shoe-in. But look now – how the turntables!’

Other Ways of Saying ‘How the turntables’

Since the phrase ‘How the turntables’ is mostly only known by fans of ‘The Office’, here is a selection of other alternative phrases you can use with a similar meaning. (There’s a lot of them.)

  • ‘My, my, how the tables have turned.’
  • ‘The tables have certainly turned now!’
  • ‘Our fortunes have reversed’
  • ‘What goes around comes around’
  • ‘Well, I guess karma’s a b*tch.’
  • ‘The victim has become the victor!’
  • ‘The roles have been reversed’
  • ‘The game has changed.’
  • ‘The situation has been reversed.’
  • ‘Everything’s changed.’
  • ‘Things are certainly different now.’
  • ‘I see things have changed in my favour.’
  • ‘The tide has turned.’
  • ‘I’m in the lead now.’
  • ‘We’re back in the lead again!’
  • ‘I knew things would work out for me in the end.’
  • ‘I told you so. I said from the start I’d beat you hands down.’

Final Thoughts

So, to sum up, the phrase ‘How the turntables’ is mostly used as a way of showing off when something has changed in one person/team’s favour when they were previously at a disadvantage.

But, since the phrase originates from the show ‘The Office’, there’s a chance the people you’re speaking with may not have heard it before. In this instance, it may make more sense to use the more familiar phrase, which is ‘How the tables have turned’.

Using and accepting the phrase is a good way to demonstrate good sportsmanship.