- Play means activity for fun or a dramatic performance.
- An example of play is building a house with blocks.
- An example of play is a performance of Shakespeare's Macbeth.
- Play is defined as to engage in activity for fun.
An example of play is to run around and play tag with friends.
- to move lightly, rapidly, or erratically; flutter: sunlight playing on the waves
- to amuse oneself, as by taking part in a game or sport; engage in recreation
- to take active part in a game or sport: not playing because of an injury
- to engage in a game for stakes; gamble
- to act, deal, or touch carelessly or lightly; trifle: with a thing or person
- Obsolete to engage in sexual activity; dally
- to perform on a musical instrument
- to give out sounds, esp. musical sounds: said of an instrument, phonograph or tape recorder, etc.
- to lend itself to performance: a drama that does not play well
- to act in a specified way; esp., to pretend to be: to play dumb
- to act in or as in a drama; perform on the stage
- to be performed or presented in a theater, on radio or TV, etc.: what movie is playing?
- to move freely within limits, as parts of a machine
- to be ejected, discharged, or directed repeatedly or continuously, as a fountain, a spotlight, etc.: with on, over, or along
- to impose unscrupulously (on another's feelings or susceptibilities)
- Informal to achieve acceptance, success, etc.
Origin of playMiddle English plein ; from Old English plegan, to play, be active
- to take part in (a game or sport)
- to be stationed at (a specified position) in a sport
- to oppose (a person, team, etc.) in a game or contest
- to enter or use (a player, etc.) in a game or contest
- to do (something), as in fun or to deceive: play tricks
- to bet
- ☆ to bet on: play the horses
- ☆ to act on the basis of: play a hunch
- ☆ to speculate in (the stock market)
- to cause to move, act, operate, etc.; wield; ply
- to put (a specified card) into play: to play an ace
- to cause or effect: to play havoc
- to perform (music)
- to perform on (a musical instrument)
- to cause (a phonograph, phonograph record, tape recorder, tape, etc.) to give out sounds, images, etc.
- to accompany or lead (someone) with music: with in, off, etc.
- to perform (a drama or dramatic passage)
- to act the part of: to play Iago, to play the fool
- to imitate the activities of, as children do for amusement: to play teacher, to play house
- ☆ to give performances in: to play Boston for a week
- to eject or direct (water, light, etc.) repeatedly or continuously (on, over, or along)
- to let (a hooked fish) tire itself by tugging at the line
- ☆ to use or exploit (a person): played him for a fool
- action, motion, or activity, esp. when free, rapid, or light: the play of muscles
- freedom or scope for motion or action, esp. of a mechanism
- activity engaged in for amusement or recreation; sport, games, etc.; often, specif., the natural activities of children
- fun; joking: to do a thing in play
- the playing of a game
- the way or technique of playing a game
- a maneuver, move, or act in a game; specif., a planned, coordinated action executed by members of a team during a game
- a turn at playing
- the act of gambling
- a dramatic composition or performance; drama
- Obsolete sexual activity; dalliance
in (or out of) play
make a play forInformal
- to employ one's arts and wiles in order to attract, esp. sexually
- to use all one's skill in order to obtain
play along (with)
- to engage in trifling activity
- to engage lightly in passing love affairs
- to be sexually unfaithful
- to participate in
- to pretend to be engaged in
- to perform or work at halfheartedly
play both ends against the middle☆
- to maneuver alternatives in order to win something, no matter what the outcome
- to play off opposing factions, etc. against one another to one's own profit
play catch-up ball☆
- worn out; exhausted
- to play according to the rules
- to behave honorably
play for time
play into someone's hands
- to pit (a person or thing) against another
- ☆ in games, to break (a tie) by playing once more
- to react to or interact with, as in a drama
- Archaic to palm off
play one's cards wellor play one's cards right
- to play to the finish
- pay out (sense ) (see phrase under pay)
play up to
verbplayed, play·ing, plays
- To occupy oneself in an activity for amusement or recreation: children playing with toys.
- a. To take part in a sport or game: He's just a beginner and doesn't play well.b. To participate in betting; gamble.
- a. To behave in a teasing or joking manner; act in jest or sport: She's not angry with you; she's just playing.b. To deal or behave carelessly or indifferently, especially for one's own amusement; toy: She isn't interested in you; she's just playing with you.
- To act or conduct oneself in a specified way: play fair; an investor who plays cautiously.
- To act, especially in a dramatic production.
- Music a. To perform on an instrument: play on an accordion.b. To emit sound or be sounded in performance: The band is playing.
- To be performed, as in a theater or on television: A good movie is playing tonight.
- To be received or accepted: a speech that played poorly with the voters.
- To move or seem to move quickly, lightly, or irregularly: The breeze played on the water.
- To function or discharge uninterruptedly: The fountains played in the courtyard.
- To move or operate freely within a bounded space, as machine parts do.
- a. To engage in (a game or sport): play hockey; play chess.b. To compete against in a game or sport: We play the Tigers today.c. To compete in a game or sport at (a location): The New York Yankees played Fenway Park last night.d. To occupy or work at (a position) in a game: Lou Gehrig played first base.e. To put (a player) at a position in a sport or in a game: Let's play her at first base.f. To use or move (a card or piece) in a game: play the ace of clubsg. To hit (a ball, shot, or stroke), as in tennis: played a strong backhand.h. To attempt to keep or gain possession or control of: No foul was called because he was playing the ball.
- a. To perform or act (a role or part) in a dramatic performance.b. To assume the role of; act as: played the peacemaker at the meeting.c. To pretend to be; mimic the activities of: played cowboy; played the star.
- a. To perform (a theatrical work or part of a work): The actors played the scene with great skill.b. To present a theatrical performance or other entertainment in (a given place): The company played Boston last week.
- a. To bet; wager: played ten dollars on the horse.b. To make bets on: play the races.
- a. To perform or put into effect, especially as a jest or deception: play a joke on a friend.b. To handle; manage: played the matter quietly.c. To use or manipulate, especially for one's own interests: played his opponents against each other.
- Music a. To perform on (an instrument): play the guitar.b. To perform (a piece) on instruments or an instrument.
- To cause (a movie, audiotape, or other recording) to be presented in audible or visible form.
- To discharge or direct in a certain direction: played the water on the burning roof.
- To cause to move rapidly, lightly, or irregularly: play lights over the dance floor.
- To exhaust (a hooked fish) by allowing it to pull on the line.
- a. A literary work written for performance on the stage; a drama.b. The performance of such a work.
- Activity engaged in for enjoyment or recreation.
- Fun or jesting: It was all done in play.
- a. The act or manner of engaging in a game or sport: After a time-out, play resumed. The golf tournament featured expert play.b. The act or manner of using a card, piece, or ball in a game or sport: my partner's play of the last trump; his clumsy play of the rebound.c. A move or an action in a game: It's your play. The runner was thrown out in a close play.
- Participation in betting; gambling.
- Manner of dealing with others; conduct: fair play.
- An attempt to obtain something; a bid: a play for sympathy.
- a. Action, motion, or use: the play of the imagination.b. Freedom or occasion for action; scope: give full play to an artist's talents.
- Movement or space for movement, as of mechanical parts.
- Quick, often irregular movement or action, especially of light or color: the play of color on iridescent feathers.
- A control mechanism on an audio or video player that starts or resumes the audible or visual presentation of a recording.
- A geological deposit, as of oil or natural gas, considered as a prospect for commercial extraction.
Origin of playMiddle English playen, from Old English plegian; see dlegh- in Indo-European roots.
(third-person singular simple present plays, present participle playing, simple past and past participle played)
- (intransitive) To act in a manner such that one has fun; to engage in activities expressly for the purpose of recreation.
- They played long and hard.
- (intransitive) To take part in amorous activity; to make love, fornicate; to have sex.
- (intransitive) To perform in a sport.
- he plays on three teams; who's playing now?
- To participate in the game indicated.
- play football; play sports; play games
- To compete against, in a game
- To act as the indicated role, especially in a performance.
- He plays the King, and she's the Queen.
- No part of the brain plays the role of permanent memory.
- (intransitive) To produce music using a musical instrument.
- I've practiced the piano off and on, and I still can't play very well.
- (ergative) To produce music on the indicated musical instrument.
- I'll play the piano and you sing; can you play an instrument?
- (ergative) To produce music, the indicated song or style, with a musical instrument.
- we especially like to play jazz together; play a song for me; do you know how to play FÃ¼r Elise?; my son thinks he can play music
- (ergative) To use a device to watch or listen to the indicated recording.
- You can play the DVD now.
- (copulative) Contrary to fact, to give an appearance of being.
- (intransitive) To act with levity or thoughtlessness; to trifle; to be careless.
- (intransitive) To act; to behave; to practice deception.
- (intransitive) To move in any manner; especially, to move regularly with alternate or reciprocating motion; to operate.
- The fountain plays.
- (intransitive) To move gaily; to disport.
- To put in action or motion.
- to play cannon upon a fortification
- to play a trump in a card game
- To bring into sportive or wanton action; to exhibit in action; to execute.
- to play tricks
- To act or perform (a play).
- to play a comedy
- To keep in play, as a hooked fish, in order to land it.
(countable and uncountable, plural plays)
- (uncountable) Activity for amusement only, especially among the young.
- (uncountable) Similar activity, in young animals, as they explore their environment and learn new skills.
- (uncountable, ethology) "Repeated, incompletely functional behavior differing from more serious versions ..., and initiated voluntarily when ... in a low-stress setting."
- The conduct, or course of a game.
- (countable) An individual's performance in a sport or game.
- (countable) (turn-based games) An action carried out when it is one's turn to play.
- (countable) A literary composition, intended to be represented by actors impersonating the characters and speaking the dialogue.
- (countable) A theatrical performance featuring actors.
- We saw a two-act play in the theatre.
- (countable) A major move by a business.
- (countable) A geological formation that contains an accumulation or prospect of hydrocarbons or other resources.
- (uncountable) The extent to which a part of a mechanism can move freely.
- No wonder the fanbelt is slipping: thereâ€™s too much play in it.
- Too much play in a steering wheel may be dangerous.
- (uncountable, informal) Sexual role-playing.
- (countable) A button that, when pressed, causes media to be played.
From Middle English playen, pleyen, pleÈen, plÃ¦ien, also Middle English plaÈen, plawen (> English plaw), from Old English pleÄ¡an, pleoÄ¡an, plÃ¦Ä¡an, and Old English pleÄ¡ian, pleaÄ¡ian, plagian (â€œto play, move about sportively, frolic, dance; move rapidly; divert or amuse oneself, occupy or busy oneself; play a game, sport with, exercise, exercise oneâ€™s self in any way for the sake of amusement; play with; play with a person, toy; strive after; play on an instrument; contend, fight; clap the hands, applaud; make sport of, mock; cohabit (with)â€), from Proto-Germanic *pleganÄ…, *plehanÄ… (â€œto care about, be concerned withâ€) and Proto-Germanic *plegÅnÄ… (â€œto engage, moveâ€); both perhaps from Proto-Indo-European *blek- (â€œto move, move aboutâ€), from Proto-Indo-European *bal- (compare Ancient Greek Î²Î»ÏÏ‰ (bluÅ), Î²Î»ÏÎ¶Ï‰ (bluzÅ, â€œI gush out, springâ€), Sanskrit à¤¬à¤²à¥à¤¬à¤²à¥€à¤¤à¤¿ (balbalÄ«ti, â€œit whirls, twirlsâ€)). Cognate with Scots play (â€œto act or move briskly, cause to move, stirâ€), Saterland Frisian plegia (â€œto look after, care for, maintainâ€), West Frisian pleegje, pliigje (â€œto commit, perform, bedriveâ€), Middle Dutch pleyen ("to dance, leap for joy, rejoice, be glad"; > Modern Dutch pleien (â€œto play a particular children's gameâ€)), Dutch plegen (â€œto commit, bedrive, practiceâ€), German pflegen (â€œto care for, be concerned with, attend to, tendâ€), Danish pleie (â€œto tend to, nurseâ€), Swedish plÃ¤ga (â€œto be wont to, be accustomed toâ€). Related also to Old English plÄ“on (â€œto risk, endangerâ€). More at plight, pledge.
The noun is from Middle English pleye, from Old English plÃ¦Ä¡, pleÄ¡a, plÃ¦Ä¡a (â€œplay, quick motion, movement, exercise; (athletic) sport, game; festivity, drama; battle; gear for games, an implement for a game; clapping with the hands, applauseâ€), deverbative of pleÄ¡ian (â€œto playâ€); see above.