Idioms

    make a play for, to try to get: He made a play for his brother's girlfriend. They made a play for control of the company's stock.
    make as if/as though, Informal. to act as if; pretend: We will make as if to leave, then come back and surprise him.
    make away with,
    1. to steal: The clerk made away with the cash and checks.
    2. to destroy; kill: He made away with his enemies.
    3. to get rid of.
    4. to consume, drink, or eat completely: The boys made away with the contents of the refrigerator.
    make believe, to pretend; imagine: The little girl dressed in a sheet and made believe she was a ghost.
    make (so) bold, to have the temerity; be so rash; dare: May I make so bold as to suggest that you stand when they enter?
    make book, Slang.
    1. to take bets and give odds.
    2. to make a business of this.
    make colors, Nautical. to hoist an ensign, as on board a warship.
    make do, to function, manage, or operate, usually on a deprivation level with minimal requirements: During the war we had no butter or coffee, so we had to make do without them.
    make good,
    1. to provide restitution or reparation for: The bank teller made good the shortage and was given a light sentence.
    2. to succeed: Talent and training are necessary to make good in some fields.
    3. to fulfill: He made good on his promise.
    4. Navigation.to compute (a course) allowing for leeway and compass deviation.
    make heavy weather,
    1. Nautical.to roll and pitch in heavy seas.
    2. to progress laboriously; struggle, especially to struggle needlessly: I am making heavy weather with my income tax return.
    make it,
    1. Informal.to achieve a specific goal: to make it to the train; to make it through college.
    2. Informal.to succeed in general: He'll never make it in business.
    3. Slang.to have sexual intercourse.
    make it so, Nautical. strike the ship's bell accordingly: said by the officer of the watch when the hour is announced.
    make like, Informal. to try or pretend to be like; imitate: I'm going to go out and make like a gardener.
    make one's manners, Southern U.S.
    1. to perform an appropriate or expected social courtesy.
    2. Older Use.to bow or curtsy.
    make sail, Nautical.
    1. to set sails.
    2. to brace the yards of a ship that has been hove to in order to make headway.
    make time. time(def 52).
    make water,
    1. to urinate.
    2. Nautical.(of a hull) to leak.
    make with, Slang.
    1. to operate; use: Let's make with the feet.
    2. to bring about; provide or produce: He makes with the big ideas, but can't follow through.
    on the make, Informal.
    1. seeking to improve one's social or financial position, usually at the expense of others or of principle.
    2. increasing; advancing.
    3. Slang.seeking amorous or sexual relations: The park was swarming with sailors on the make.
    put the make on, Slang. to make sexual overtures to.

Origin of make

1
before 900; Middle English maken, Old English macian; cognate with Low German, Dutch maken, German machen
Related formsmak·a·ble, adjective

Synonyms for make

Synonym study

1. Make, construct, manufacture mean to produce, to put into definite form, or to put parts together to make a whole. Make is the general term: Bees make wax. Construct, more formal, means to put parts together, usually according to a plan or design: to construct a building. Manufacture usually refers to producing something from material that requires conversion from one state or condition to another, now almost entirely by means of machinery in a relatively complex process: to manufacture automobiles by the assembly of different parts. The term is also often used contemptuously of unimaginative or hackneyed works of art with the implication that the work was produced mechanically, and is used abstractly with the idea of denying genuineness: to manufacture an excuse.

Antonyms for make

play

[pley]

noun

a dramatic composition or piece; drama.
a dramatic performance, as on the stage.
exercise or activity for amusement or recreation.
fun or jest, as opposed to seriousness: I said it merely in play.
a pun.
the playing, action, or conduct of a game: The pitcher was replaced in the fourth inning of play.
the manner or style of playing or of doing something: We admired his fine play throughout the game.
an act or instance of playing or of doing something: a stupid play that cost us the match.
one's turn to play: Whose play is it?
a playing for stakes; gambling.
an attempt to accomplish something, often in a manner showing craft or calculation; maneuver: They tried to buy up the stock in a takeover play.
an enterprise or venture; deal: an oil and drilling play.
action, conduct, or dealing of a specified kind: fair play; foul play.
action, activity, or operation: the play of fancy.
brisk, light, or changing movement or action: a fountain with a leaping play of water.
elusive change or movement, as of light or colors: the play of a searchlight against the night sky.
a space in which something, as a part of a mechanism, can move.
freedom of movement within a space, as of a part of a mechanism.
freedom for action, or scope for activity: full play of the mind.
attention in the press or other media; coverage; dissemination as news: The birth of the panda got a big play in the papers.
an act or instance of being broadcast: The governor's speech got two plays on our local station.

verb (used with object)

to act the part of (a person or character) in a dramatic performance; portray: to play Lady Macbeth.
to perform (a drama, pantomime, etc.) on or as if on the stage.
to act or sustain (a part) in a dramatic performance or in real life: to play the role of benefactor.
to act the part or character of in real life: to play the fool; to play God.
to give performances in, as a theatrical company does: to play the larger cities.
to engage in (a game, pastime, etc.).
to contend against in a game.
to function or perform as (a specified player) in a game or competition: He usually plays left end.
to employ (a piece of equipment, a player, etc.) in a game: I played my highest card.
to use as if in playing a game, as for one's own advantage: He played his brothers against each other.
to stake or wager, as in a game.
to lay a wager or wagers on (something).
to represent or imitate, as for recreation or in jest: to play cowboys and Indians.
to perform on (a musical instrument).
to perform (music) on an instrument.
to cause (a phonograph, radio, recording, etc.) to produce sound or pictures: to play a tape; to play the radio.
to do or perform: You shouldn't play tricks. Compromise plays an important part in marriage.
to carry or put into operation; act upon: to play a hunch.
to cause to move or change lightly or quickly: to play colored lights on a fountain.
to operate or cause to operate, especially continuously or with repeated action: to play a hose on a fire.
to allow (a hooked fish) to exhaust itself by pulling on the line.
to display or feature (a news story, photograph, etc.), especially prominently: Play the flood photos on page one.
to exploit or trade in (an investment, business opportunity, stock, etc.).

verb (used without object)

to exercise or employ oneself in diversion, amusement, or recreation.
to do something in sport that is not to be taken seriously.
to amuse oneself; toy; trifle (often followed by with).
to take part or engage in a game.
to take part in a game for stakes; gamble.
to conduct oneself or act in a specified way: to play fair.
to act on or as if on the stage; perform.
to perform on a musical instrument.
(of an instrument or music) to sound in performance: The strings are playing well this evening.
(of a phonograph, radio, recording, etc.) to give forth sound: The radio played all night.
to be performed or shown: What's playing at the movie theater around the corner?
to be capable of or suitable for performance, as a television or dramatic script: We hope this scene will play well.
Informal. to be accepted or effective; fare: How will the senator's proposal play with the public?
to move freely within a space, as a part of a mechanism.
to move about lightly or quickly: The water of the fountain played in the air.
to present the effect of such motion, as light or the changing colors of an iridescent substance: The lights played strangely over the faces of the actors.
to operate continuously or with repeated action.
Informal. to comply or cooperate: They wanted her to tell them what she knew about the plans, but she refused to play.

Verb Phrases

play along,
  1. to cooperate or concur; go along.
  2. to pretend to cooperate or concur.
play around, Informal.
  1. to behave in a playful or frivolous manner; fool around.
  2. to be sexually promiscuous.
  3. to be sexually unfaithful.
play at,
  1. to pretend interest in: It's obvious that you're just playing at fishing for my sake.
  2. to do something without seriousness: He is merely playing at being a student.
play back, to play (a recording, especially one newly made): Play it back and let's hear how I sound.
play down, to treat as of little importance; belittle: He has consistently played down his own part in the successful enterprise.
play off,
  1. Sports.to play an extra game or round in order to settle a tie.
  2. Sports.to engage in an elimination game or games after the regular season is over in order to determine the champion.
  3. to set (one person or thing) against another, usually for one's own gain or advantage: The children could usually get what they wanted by playing one parent off against the other.
play on/upon, to exploit, as the feelings or weaknesses of another; take selfish advantage of: She would never think of playing on the good nature of others.
play out,
  1. to bring to an end; finish.
  2. to use up; exhaust: to play out one's supplies.
  3. to reel or pay out, as a rope, line, etc.
play up, to emphasize the importance of; highlight or publicize: The schools are playing up their science programs.

Origin of play

before 900; (noun) Middle English pleye, Old English plega; (v.) Middle English pleyen, Old English pleg(i)an (cognate with Middle Dutch pleien to leap for joy, dance, rejoice, be glad)
Related formsplay·ing·ly, adverbplay·less, adjectiveplay·like, adjectivecoun·ter·play, nounnon·play·ing, adjectiveself-play·ing, adjectiveun·played, adjectiveun·play·ing, adjectivewell-played, adjective

Synonyms for play

2. show. 3. diversion, pastime. Play, game, sport refer to forms of diverting activity. Play is the general word for any such form of activity, often undirected, spontaneous, or random: Childhood should be a time for play. Game refers to a recreational contest, mental or physical, usually governed by set rules: a game of chess. Besides referring to an individual contest, game may refer to a pastime as a whole: Golf is a good game. If, however, the pastime is one (usually an outdoor one) depending chiefly on physical strength, though not necessarily a contest, the word sport is applied: Football is a vigorous sport. 18, 19. liberty. 23. enact. 25. personate, impersonate. 30. use. 32. bet. 33. back. 45. sport, frolic, romp, revel. 47. dally.

Antonyms for play

3, 45. work.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019


British Dictionary definitions for make a play for

play

verb

to occupy oneself in (a sport or diversion); amuse oneself in (a game)
(tr) to contend against (an opponent) in a sport or gameEd played Tony at chess and lost
to fulfil or cause to fulfil (a particular role) in a team gamehe plays defence; he plays in the defence
(tr) to address oneself to (a ball) in a gameplay the ball not the man
(intr; often foll by about or around) to behave carelessly, esp in a way that is unconsciously cruel or hurtful; trifle or dally (with)to play about with a young girl's affections
(when intr, often foll by at) to perform or act the part (of) in or as in a dramatic production; assume or simulate the role (of)to play the villain; just what are you playing at?
to act out or perform (a dramatic production)
to give a performance in (a place) or (of a performance) to be given in a place
(intr) to be receivedHow will these policies play in Middle England?
to have the ability to perform on (a musical instrument)David plays the harp
to perform (on a musical instrument) as specifiedhe plays out of tune
(tr)
  1. to reproduce (a tune, melody, piece of music, note, etc) on an instrument
  2. to perform works by (a specific composer)to play Brahms
to discharge or cause to dischargehe played the water from the hose onto the garden
to operate, esp to cause (a record player, radio, etc) to emit sound or (of a record player, radio, etc) to emit (sound)he played a record; the radio was playing loudly
to move or cause to move freely, quickly, or irregularlylights played on the scenery
(tr) stock exchange to speculate or operate aggressively for gain in (a market)
(tr) angling to attempt to tire (a hooked fish) by alternately letting out and reeling in line and by using the rod's flexibility
to put (a card, counter, piece, etc) into play
to gamble (money) on a game
play ball informal to cooperate
play fair or play fair with someone to prove oneself fair in one's dealings
play false or play fair with someone to prove oneself unfair in one's dealings
play by ear See ear 1 (def. 19)
play for time to delay the outcome of some activity so as to gain time to one's own advantage
play into the hands of to act directly to the advantage of (an opponent)
play the fool See fool 1 (def. 7)
play the game See game 1 (def. 22)

noun

a dramatic composition written for performance by actors on a stage, on television, etc; drama
  1. the performance of a dramatic composition
  2. (in combination)playreader
  1. games, exercise, or other activity undertaken for pleasure, diversion, etc, esp by children
  2. (in combination)playroom
  3. (as modifier)play dough
manner of action, conduct, or playingfair play
the playing or conduct of a game or the period during which a game is in progressrain stopped play
US and Canadian a move or manoeuvre in a gamea brilliant play
the situation of a ball that is within the defined area and being played according to the rules (in the phrases in play, out of play)
a turn to playit's my play
the act of playing for stakes; gambling
action, activity, or operationthe play of the imagination
freedom of or scope or space for movementtoo much play in the rope
light, free, or rapidly shifting motionthe play of light on the water
fun, jest, or jokingI only did it in play
call into play to bring into operation
make a play for informal
  1. to make an obvious attempt to gain
  2. to attempt to attract or seduce
Derived Formsplayability, nounplayable, adjective

Word Origin for play

Old English plega (n), plegan (vb); related to Middle Dutch pleyen

make

1

verb makes, making or made (mainly tr)

to bring into being by shaping, changing, or combining materials, ideas, etc; form or fashion; createto make a chair from bits of wood; make a poem
to draw up, establish, or formto make a decision; make one's will
to cause to exist, bring about, or producedon't make a noise
to cause, compel, or induceplease make him go away
to appoint or assign, as to a rank or positionthey made him chairman
to constituteone swallow doesn't make a summer
(also intr) to come or cause to come into a specified state or conditionto make merry; make someone happy
(copula) to be or become through developmenthe will make a good teacher
to cause or ensure the success ofyour news has made my day
to amount totwelve inches make a foot
to be part of or a member ofdid she make one of the party?
to serve as or be suitable forthat piece of cloth will make a coat
to prepare or put into a fit condition for useto make a bed
to be the essential element in or part ofcharm makes a good salesman
to carry out, effect, or doto make a gesture
(intr; foll by to, as if to, or as though to) to act with the intention or with a show of doing somethingthey made to go out; he made as if to hit her
to use for a specified purposeI will make this town my base
to deliver or pronounceto make a speech
to judge, reckon, or give one's own opinion or information as towhat time do you make it?
to cause to seem or represent as beingthat furniture makes the room look dark
to earn, acquire, or win for oneselfto make friends; make a fortune
to engage inmake love not war
to traverse or cover (distance) by travellingwe can make a hundred miles by nightfall
to arrive in time forhe didn't make the first act of the play
cards
  1. to win a trick with (a specified card)
  2. to shuffle (the cards)
  3. bridgeto fulfil (a contract) by winning the necessary number of tricks
cricket to score (runs)
electronics to close (a circuit) permitting a flow of currentCompare break (def. 44)
(intr) to increase in depththe water in the hold was making a foot a minute
(intr) (of hay) to dry and mature
informal to gain a place or position on or into make the headlines; make the first team
informal to achieve the rank of
slang to seduce
make a book to take bets on a race or other contest
make a day of it to cause an activity to last a day
make a night of it to cause an activity to last a night
make do See do 1 (def. 37)
make eyes at to flirt with or ogle
make good See good (def. 44)
make heavy weather nautical to roll and pitch in heavy seas
make heavy weather of something informal to carry something out with great difficulty or unnecessarily great effort
make it
  1. informalto be successful in doing something
  2. (foll by with) slangto have sexual intercourse
  3. slangto inject a narcotic drug
make like slang, mainly US and Canadian to imitate
make love
  1. to have sexual intercourse
  2. archaicto engage in courtship
make love to someone
  1. to have sexual intercourse with someone
  2. archaicto engage in courtship with someone
make or break to bring success or ruin
make time See time (def. 45)
make water
  1. another term for urinate
  2. (of a boat, hull, etc) to let in water

noun

brand, type, or stylewhat make of car is that?
the manner or way in which something is made
disposition or character; make-up
the act or process of making
the amount or number made
bridge the contract to be played
cards a player's turn to shuffle
on the make
  1. informalout for profit or conquest
  2. slangin search of a sexual partner
Derived Formsmakable, adjective

Word Origin for make

Old English macian; related to Old Frisian makia to construct, Dutch maken, German machen to make

make

2

noun archaic

a peer or consort
a mate or spouse
Derived Formsmakeless, adjective

Word Origin for make

Old English gemaca mate; related to match 1
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

Word Origin and History for make a play for

play

v.

Old English plegan, plegian "move rapidly, occupy or busy oneself, exercise; frolic; make sport of, mock; perform music," from West Germanic *plegan "occupy oneself about" (cf. Old Saxon plegan "vouch for, take charge of," Old Frisian plega "tend to," Middle Dutch pleyen "to rejoice, be glad," German pflegen "take care of, cultivate"), from PIE root *dlegh- "to engage oneself," forming words in Celtic, Germanic, Slavic, and possibly Latin.

Meaning "to take part in a game" is from c.1200. Opposed to work (v.) since late 14c. Related: Played; playing. To play up "emphasize" is from 1909; to play down "minimize" is from 1930; to play along "cooperate" is from 1929. To play with oneself "masturbate" is from 1896; play for keeps is from 1861, originally of marbles or other children's games with tokens. To play second fiddle in the figurative sense is from 1809 ("Gil Blas"). To play into the hands (of someone) is from 1705. To play the _______ card is attested from 1886; to play fair is from mid-15c. To play (something) safe is from 1911; to play favorites is attested from 1902. For play the field see field (n.).

play

n.

Old English plega (West Saxon), plæga (Anglian) "quick motion; recreation, exercise, any brisk activity" (the latter sense preserved in swordplay, etc.), from or related to Old English plegan (see play (v.)). Meaning "dramatic performance" is attested by early 14c., perhaps late Old English. Meaning "free or unimpeded movement" of mechanisms, etc., is from c.1200. By early Middle English it could mean variously, "a game, a martial sport, activity of children, joke or jesting, revelry, sexual indulgence." Sporting sense "the playing of a game" first attested mid-15c.; sense of "specific maneuver or attempt" is from 1868. To be in play (of a hit ball, etc.) is from 1788. Play-by-play is attested from 1927. Play on words is from 1798. Play-money is attested from 1705 as "money won in gambling," by 1920 as "pretend money."

make

v.

Old English macian "to make, form, construct, do; prepare, arrange, cause; behave, fare, transform," from West Germanic *makon "to fashion, fit" (cf. Old Saxon makon, Old Frisian makia "to build, make," Middle Dutch and Dutch maken, Old High German mahhon "to construct, make," German machen "to make"), from PIE *mag- "to knead, mix; to fashion, fit" (see macerate). If so, sense evolution perhaps is via prehistoric houses built of mud. Gradually replaced the main Old English word, gewyrcan (see work (v.)).

Meaning "to arrive at" (a place), first attested 1620s, originally was nautical. Formerly used in many places where specific verbs now are used, e.g. to make Latin (c.1500) "to write Latin compositions." This broader usage survives in some phrases, e.g. to make water "to urinate," to make a book "arrange a series of bets" (1828), make hay "to turn over mown grass to expose it to sun." Make the grade is 1912, perhaps from the notion of railway engines going up an incline.

Read the valuable suggestions in Dr. C.V. Mosby's book -- be prepared to surmount obstacles before you encounter them -- equipped with the power to "make the grade" in life's climb. [advertisement for "Making the Grade," December 1916]

But the phrase also was in use in a schoolwork context at the time. Make do "manage with what is available" is attested from 1867. Make time "go fast" is 1849; make tracks in this sense is from 1834. To make a federal case out of (something) popularized in 1959 movie "Anatomy of a Murder;" to make an offer (one) can't refuse is from Mario Puzo's 1969 novel "The Godfather." To make (one's) day is from 1909; menacing make my day is from 1971, popularized by Clint Eastwood in film "Sudden Impact" (1983). Related: Made; making.

make

n.

"match, mate, companion" (now archaic or dialectal), from Old English gemaca "mate, equal; one of a pair, comrade; consort, husband, wife," from Proto-Germanic *gamakon-, related to Old English gemæcc "well-matched, suitable," macian "to make" (see make (v.)). Meaning "manner in which something is made, design, construction" is from c.1300. Phrase on the make "intent on profit or advancement" is from 1869.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with make a play for

make a play for

Try to attract someone's interest, especially romantic interest. For example, Bill has been making a play for Anne, but so far it hasn't gotten him anywhere. [Slang; c. 1900]

make

In addition to the idioms beginning with make

  • make a beeline for
  • make a break for
  • make a bundle
  • make a clean breast of
  • make a clean sweep
  • make a comeback
  • make a crack
  • make a date
  • make a day of it
  • make a dent in
  • make a difference
  • make advances
  • make a face
  • make a federal case of
  • make a fool of
  • make a fortune
  • make a fuss
  • make a go of
  • make a hash of
  • make a hit
  • make a hole in
  • make a killing
  • make a laughingstock of
  • make a living
  • make allowance for
  • make a long story short
  • make amends
  • make a monkey out of
  • make a mountain out of a molehill
  • make a name for oneself
  • make an appearance
  • make an appointment
  • make an ass of
  • make an end of
  • make an example of
  • make an exception
  • make an exhibition of oneself
  • make a night of it
  • make an impression
  • make a note of
  • make a nuisance of oneself
  • make a pass at
  • make a pig of oneself
  • make a pile
  • make a pitch for
  • make a play for
  • make a point of
  • make a practice of
  • make arrangements for
  • make a run for
  • make a scene
  • make as if
  • make a silk purse
  • make a stab at
  • make a stand
  • make a statement
  • make a stink
  • make a virtue of necessity
  • make away with
  • make bail
  • make believe
  • make bold
  • make book
  • make bricks without straw
  • make capital out of
  • make conversation
  • make demands on
  • make do
  • make ends meet
  • make eyes at
  • make fast work of
  • make for
  • make free with
  • make friends
  • make fun of
  • make good
  • make good time
  • make great strides
  • make haste
  • make hay while the sun shines
  • make head or tail of
  • make headway
  • make heavy weather
  • make history
  • make inroads into
  • make it
  • make it hot for
  • make it one's business
  • make it snappy
  • make it up
  • make it with
  • make light of
  • make like
  • make little of
  • make love
  • make mincemeat of
  • make mischief
  • make much of
  • make my day
  • make no bones about
  • make no difference
  • make no mistake
  • make nothing of
  • make off
  • make one's bed and lie in it
  • make one's blood boil
  • make one's blood run cold
  • make one's day
  • make one's ears burn
  • make oneself at home
  • make oneself scarce
  • make one's flesh creep
  • make one's hair stand on end
  • make one's head spin
  • make one sick
  • make one's mark
  • make one's mouth water
  • make one's peace with
  • make one's point
  • make one's way
  • make or break
  • make out
  • make out like a bandit
  • make over
  • make peace
  • make ready
  • make rounds
  • make sail
  • make sense
  • make short work of
  • make someone look good
  • make something of
  • make sport of
  • make stick
  • make sure
  • make the bed
  • make the best of it
  • make the dust fly
  • make the grade
  • make the most of
  • make the rounds
  • make the scene
  • make the sparks fly
  • make time
  • make tracks
  • make up
  • make up for lost time
  • make up one's mind
  • make up to
  • make use of
  • make waves
  • make way
  • make whoopee
  • make with

also see:

  • absence makes the heart grow fonder
  • all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
  • can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear
  • can't make head or tail of
  • kiss and make up
  • many hands make light work
  • might makes right
  • on the make
  • practice makes perfect
  • put in (make) an appearance
  • put the make on
  • run for it, make a
  • that makes two of us
  • two wrongs do not make a right
  • what makes one tick

Also see undermade.

play

In addition to the idioms beginning with play

  • play along
  • play a losing game
  • play around
  • play at
  • play a waiting game
  • play back
  • play ball
  • play both ends against the middle
  • play by ear
  • play cat and mouse
  • play down
  • played out
  • play fair
  • play false
  • play fast and loose
  • play footsie
  • play for
  • play for keeps
  • play for laughs
  • play for time
  • play games
  • play hardball
  • play hard to get
  • play havoc
  • play hide and seek
  • play hooky
  • play in Peoria
  • play into the hands of
  • play it close to one's chest
  • play it cool
  • play it safe
  • play musical chairs
  • play off
  • play on
  • play one's cards close to one's chest
  • play one's cards right
  • play one's trump card
  • play on words
  • play out
  • play politics
  • play possum
  • play safe
  • play second fiddle
  • play the devil with
  • play the field
  • play the fool
  • play the game
  • play the heavy
  • play the market
  • play to the gallery
  • play up
  • play upon
  • play up to
  • play with fire

also see:

  • all work and no play
  • child's play
  • devil's advocate, play
  • fair play
  • foul play
  • game that two can play
  • grandstand play
  • in play
  • make a play for
  • musical chairs, play
  • squeeze play
  • trump card, play one's
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.