play [plā]
[ME plein < OE plegan, to play, be active]
1. to move lightly, rapidly, or erratically; flutter [sunlight playing on the waves]
2. to amuse oneself, as by taking part in a game or sport; engage in recreation
3. to take active part in a game or sport [not playing because of an injury]
4. to engage in a game for stakes; gamble
a) to act, deal, or touch carelessly or lightly; trifle: with a thing or person
b) Obs. to engage in sexual activity; dally
6. to perform on a musical instrument
7. to give out sounds, esp. musical sounds: said of an instrument, phonograph or tape recorder, etc.
8. to lend itself to performance [a drama that does not play well]
9. to act in a specified way; esp., to pretend to be [to play dumb]
10. to act in or as in a drama; perform on the stage
11. to be performed or presented in a theater, on radio or TV, etc. [what movie is playing?]
12. to move freely within limits, as parts of a machine
13. to be ejected, discharged, or directed repeatedly or continuously, as a fountain, a spotlight, etc.: with on, over, or along
14. to impose unscrupulously (on another's feelings or susceptibilities)
15. Informal to achieve acceptance, success, etc.
a) to take part in (a game or sport)
b) to be stationed at (a specified position) in a sport
2. to oppose (a person, team, etc.) in a game or contest
3. to enter or use (a player, etc.) in a game or contest
4. to do (something), as in fun or to deceive [play tricks]
a) to bet
b) to bet on [play the horses ]
c) to act on the basis of [play a hunch ]
6. to speculate in (the stock market)
7. to cause to move, act, operate, etc.; wield; ply
8. to put (a specified card) into play [to play an ace]
9. to cause or effect [to play havoc]
10. to perform (music)
a) to perform on (a musical instrument)
b) to cause (a phonograph, phonograph record, tape recorder, tape, etc.) to give out sounds, images, etc.
12. to accompany or lead (someone) with music: with in, off, etc.
13. to perform (a drama or dramatic passage)
14. to act the part of [to play Iago, to play the fool]
15. to imitate the activities of, as children do for amusement [to play teacher, to play house ]
16. to give performances in [to play Boston for a week]
17. to eject or direct (water, light, etc.) repeatedly or continuously (on, over, or along)
18. to let (a hooked fish) tire itself by tugging at the line
19. to use or exploit (a person) [played him for a fool]
1. action, motion, or activity, esp. when free, rapid, or light [the play of muscles]
2. freedom or scope for motion or action, esp. of a mechanism
3. activity engaged in for amusement or recreation; sport, games, etc.; often, specif., the natural activities of children
4. fun; joking [to do a thing in play]
a) the playing of a game
b) the way or technique of playing a game
a) a maneuver, move, or act in a game; specif., a planned, coordinated action executed by members of a team during a game
b) a turn at playing
7. the act of gambling
8. a dramatic composition or performance; drama
9. Obs. sexual activity; dalliance
in play or out of play
Sports in (or not in) the condition for continuing play: said of a ball, etc.
make a play for Informal
1. to employ one's arts and wiles in order to attract, esp. sexually
2. to use all one's skill in order to obtain
play along with or play along
to join in or cooperate (with)
play around
1. to engage in trifling activity
a) to engage lightly in passing love affairs
b) to be sexually unfaithful
play at
1. to participate in
2. to pretend to be engaged in
3. to perform or work at halfheartedly
play back
to give out or cause to give out (sounds, images, etc.) that have been recorded on (a tape, disc, etc.)
☆ play both ends against the middle
1. to maneuver alternatives in order to win something, no matter what the outcome
2. to play off opposing factions, etc. against one another to one's own profit
☆ play catch-up ball
Sports to adjust one's style of play so as to make up for a lack of points, runs, etc.
play down
to attach little importance, or give little publicity, to; minimize
played out
1. finished
2. worn out; exhausted
3. out-of-date
play fair
1. to play according to the rules
2. to behave honorably
play for time
to maneuver so as to delay an outcome, gain a respite, etc.
play into someone's hands
to act in such a way as to give the advantage to someone
play it
to act in a (specified) manner [to play it smart]
play off
1. to pit (a person or thing) against another
2. in games, to break (a tie) by playing once more
3. to react to or interact with, as in a drama
4. Archaic to palm off
play one's cards well or play one's cards right
to use one's resources in the most effective manner
play out
1. to play to the finish
2. PAY OUT (sense 2) (see phrase under PAY1)
☆ play up
Informal to give prominence to
play through
to pass another foursome or group with their permission, while playing a round of golf
play up to
Informal to try to please by flattery, etc.

English World dictionary. . 2014.

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