View synonyms for horseplay


[ hawrs-pley ]


  1. rough or boisterous play or pranks.


/ ˈhɔːsˌpleɪ /


  1. rough, boisterous, or rowdy play

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Other Words From

  • horseplayful adjective
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Word History and Origins

Origin of horseplay1

First recorded in 1580–90; horse + play
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Example Sentences

The BBC confirmed that the bite had taken place but claimed it was merely “horseplay.”

The truth is that dressing up in drag and pretending to be gay have been part of posh male British horseplay for centuries.

Shouting, singing, and indulging in horseplay the savages crowded round, watching the process.

A gentleman commoner of Queen's was president of a 'hellfire club,' and brutal horseplay was still practised upon the weaker lads.

It was pleasant enough looking horseplay; the sort of intimacy that people have when they've been together for a long time.

He seemed to treat the whole proceeding as a bit of horseplay, joking profanely with his captors, boasting of his crimes.

After an hour's horseplay they trooped back to the cabin and soon had breakfast out of the way.


Related Words

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More About Horseplay

What does horseplay mean?

Horseplay is play that is physically rough or rowdy, such as kids wrestling around on the ground or splashing around and climbing on each other in a pool.

Horseplay usually involves kids, and the word is usually used by adults telling them to knock it off because someone could get hurt or something could get broken. Horseplay isn’t typically intended to cause anyone harm—it’s usually just physical play that’s supposed to be fun. However, the word is typically used to refer to activity that’s perhaps a bit too rough.

The word roughhousing can mean the same thing. Terms like hijinks, shenanigans, tomfoolery, and fooling around are used in similar ways, but while horseplay often involves pranks or silliness, the word always implies a physical aspect.

The informal verb phrase horse around means to engage in horseplay.

Horseplay actually has an adjective form that’s not commonly used but should be: horseplayful.

Example: No horseplay in the dining room! I don’t want anything getting broken!

Where does horseplay come from?

The first records of the word horseplay come from the late 1500s. It’s not entirely clear why the word horse is used in horseplay, but it probably has to do with horses running, leaping, and bucking around.

Horseplay can happen anywhere, including on playgrounds and living rooms (much to parents’ frustration). One place where it’s common (and not usually allowed) is in swimming pools, maybe because tackling each other in the water doesn’t hurt as much as when it happens on the ground. Classic pool horseplay includes things like sitting on each other’s shoulders and trying to knock each other off (at least until the lifeguard tells you to stop). This is called a chicken fight, but maybe it should be called a horse fight, especially since the word horse can be used as a verb meaning “to carry on one’s back.”

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What are some other forms related to horseplay?

  • horseplayful (adjective)

What are some synonyms for horseplay?

What are some words that share a root or word element with horseplay


What are some words that often get used in discussing horseplay?


How is horseplay used in real life?

Horseplay is most commonly used by adults telling kids to not be so rough.


Try using horseplay!

Is horseplay used correctly in the following sentence?

Running and horseplay are not allowed in the pool area.




horse pistolhorseplayer