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[pley-akt] /ˈpleɪˌækt/
verb (used without object)
to engage in make-believe.
to be insincere or affected in speech, manner, etc.:
It's hard to get away with playacting with members of one's own family.
to perform in a play.
verb (used with object)
to dramatize (something):
They playacted the movements of a burglar.
Origin of playact
1895-1900; back formation from playacting; see play, act, -ing1
Related forms
playacting, noun
playactor, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for play-act
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I thought he could play-act the thing in his mind too well ever to be the thing itself.

    Gilian The Dreamer Neil Munro
  • I am merely vexed that you should play-act to me, and to Bezobiedoff, and to yourself.

    Youth Leo Tolstoy
  • It had been helpful and even laudable to play-act the chief scenes when the story was beginning, but now they had no time.

    Red Cap Tales Samuel Rutherford Crockett
  • You're such a sinful old 'ypocrite, that you play-act before yourself, I do believe.

    The Lord of the Sea M. P. Shiel
British Dictionary definitions for play-act


(intransitive) to pretend or make believe
(intransitive) to behave in an overdramatic or affected manner
to act in or as in (a play)
Derived Forms
play-acting, noun
play-actor, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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