- 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 Für 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: there’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, pleȝen, plæien, also Middle English plaȝen, plawen (> English plaw), from Old English pleġan, pleoġan, plæġan, and Old English pleġian, pleaġian, plagian (“to play, move about sportively, frolic, dance; move rapidly; divert or amuse oneself, occupy or busy oneself; play a game, sport with, exercise, exercise one’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)”), from Proto-Germanic *pleganą, *plehaną (“to care about, be concerned with”) and Proto-Germanic *plegōną (“to engage, move”); both perhaps from Proto-Indo-European *blek- (“to move, move about”), from Proto-Indo-European *bal- (compare Ancient Greek βλύω (bluō), βλύζω (bluzō, “I gush out, spring”), Sanskrit बल्बलीति (balbalīti, “it whirls, twirls”)). Cognate with Scots play (“to act or move briskly, cause to move, stir”), Saterland Frisian plegia (“to look after, care for, maintain”), West Frisian pleegje, pliigje (“to commit, perform, bedrive”), Middle Dutch pleyen ("to dance, leap for joy, rejoice, be glad"; > Modern Dutch pleien (“to play a particular children's game”)), Dutch plegen (“to commit, bedrive, practice”), German pflegen (“to care for, be concerned with, attend to, tend”), Danish pleie (“to tend to, nurse”), Swedish pläga (“to be wont to, be accustomed to”). Related also to Old English plēon (“to risk, endanger”). More at plight, pledge.
The noun is from Middle English pleye, from Old English plæġ, pleġa, plæġa (“play, quick motion, movement, exercise; (athletic) sport, game; festivity, drama; battle; gear for games, an implement for a game; clapping with the hands, applause”), deverbative of pleġian (“to play”); see above.