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play fair

Behave honestly and honorably, obey the rules, as in Not every supplier we deal with plays fair , or We can't just leave them to find their own way back—that's not playing fair . Although this idiom conjures up playing by the rules in some game or sport, it actually has been used in this figurative way since the mid-1400s. Also see play the game
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Examples from the Web for play fair
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  • You must promise us that you will play fair this afternoon in our rowing contest.

    Madge Morton's Secret

    Amy D. V. Chalmers
  • There was not a chance in the world that he would stand back and play fair.

    The Fighting Edge William MacLeod Raine
  • It showed me you intended to turn over a new leaf and play fair.

    Jim Spurling, Fisherman

    Albert Walter Tolman
  • "We'll play fair, though," he said, and faced round on the benches.

    Shining Ferry

    Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch
  • I gave you your choice, and having made it you will play fair.

    The Lady of the Basement Flat Mrs. George de Horne Vaizey
  • There,” he said, “now we can all play fair, and you can see my scars.

    Glyn Severn's Schooldays George Manville Fenn
  • He didn't trust the doctor, though he thought he'd play fair about the gold.

    A Man to His Mate J. Allan Dunn
  • Naughty, naughty, Florine, not to play fair with old papa Beiner!

    Find the Woman

    Arthur Somers Roche
  • He replied, ‘Yes, I can see them all, but I will play fair.’

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