musical chairs

noun, plural in form but singular in construction

Definition of musical chairs

: a game in which players march to music around a row of chairs numbering one less than the players and scramble for seats when the music stops also : a situation or series of events suggesting the game of musical chairs (as in rapid change or confusing activity)

Examples of musical chairs in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This year’s free agency and draft should be quite the game of musical chairs, and not everyone is guaranteed a seat in the end. Ben Volin,, "Here is a rundown of where some big-name quarterbacks might land," 15 Feb. 2020 Many nights, the entire bench has played minutes with Slonim moving pieces around like musical chairs on Mountain Dew. Scott Springer,, "Crazy moments lead Turpin basketball, alum Josh Slonim to 1st league title in six years," 13 Feb. 2020 In this jumbled season of college basketball, underdogs have pulled off massive upsets, decades-long winning streaks have snapped and the top teams are playing musical chairs with the No. 1 spot. Laine Higgins, WSJ, "Rutgers Is Actually Good at Basketball. No, Really.," 11 Feb. 2020 The highest levels of city government in Baltimore feel like a game of musical chairs in which the losers gets their houses raided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Sean Kennedy, WSJ, "‘The Wire’ Is Finished, but Baltimore Still Bleeds," 7 Feb. 2020 Also, the Knicks have played musical chairs with their starting backcourt, and the Hornets have had consistency with Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier. Geoff Clark, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "New York Knicks at Charlotte Hornets odds, picks and best bets," 28 Jan. 2020 In a year of musical chairs in publishing, with new heads installed at Sony/ATV and Warner Chappell, Gerson applied steady, strategic force in a challenging market. Melinda Newman, Billboard, "Jody Gerson of Universal Music Publishing Group: Executive of the Year," 24 Jan. 2020 Here are predictions for how some of the more high-profile episodes of C-suite musical chairs will play out. Sarah Halzack | Bloomberg, Washington Post, "The Retail Industry Will Challenge Some New Faces," 12 Dec. 2019 The offensive line looking bad right away and doing musical chairs due to injury. Stephanie Stradley, Houston Chronicle, "Stephanie Stradley’s Texans season preview Q&A with Rivers McCown," 4 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'musical chairs.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of musical chairs

1877, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for musical chairs

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The first known use of musical chairs was in 1877

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Statistics for musical chairs

Last Updated

25 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Musical chairs.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for musical chairs

musical chairs


English Language Learners Definition of musical chairs

: a children's game in which players walk around a row of chairs while music plays and try to sit down when the music stops
: a situation in which many changes happen in a way that is confusing or harmful

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