Dictionary.com

play both ends against the middle

Save This Word!

Also, play one off against another. Gain an advantage by setting opposing parties or interests against one another. For example, Some children are adept at manipulating their parents, playing both ends against the middle, or Aunt Jane had a nasty habit of playing the twins off against each other. The first term may come from a cheating practice used in faro. Minute strips were cut off certain cards, so that one could tell where they lay in the deck. When the cards were cut convex or concave, it was called “both ends against the middle.” The figurative use of the term dates from the first half of the 1900s. The variant originated in the mid-1600s as play against one another, with off being added in the late 1800s.

QUIZ
CUDDLE UP! A COZY QUIZ ON FALL WORDS HAS ARRIVED
If autumn is your ideal season, spice up your repertoire of "fall" vocabulary with this quiz on some warm and vivid descriptive words for the season.
Question 1 of 10
Which of the following words means “to make a crackling sound; crackle”?
Meet Grammar CoachWrite or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar helpImprove Your Writing
Meet Grammar CoachImprove Your Writing
Write or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar help

Words nearby play both ends against the middle

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

How to use play both ends against the middle in a sentence

FEEDBACK