verb (used with object)
verb (used without object)
- to cooperate or concur; go along.
- to pretend to cooperate or concur.
- to behave in a playful or frivolous manner; fool around.
- to be sexually promiscuous.
- to be sexually unfaithful.
- to pretend interest in: It's obvious that you're just playing at fishing for my sake.
- to do something without seriousness: He is merely playing at being a student.
- Sports. to play an extra game or round in order to settle a tie.
- Sports. to engage in an elimination game or games after the regular season is over in order to determine the champion.
- 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.
- to bring to an end; finish.
- to use up; exhaust: to play out one's supplies.
- to reel or pay out, as a rope, line, etc.
SYNONYMS FOR play
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Idioms for play
- to try to attract, especially sexually: He made a play for his friend's girlfriend.
- to attempt to gain by impressing favorably: This ad will make a play for new consumer markets.
- exhausted; weary.
- out of fashion; hackneyed: New styles in clothing are soon played out in New York.
- used up; finished: The original tires were played out and had to be replaced.
Origin of play
synonym study for play
OTHER WORDS FROM play
Words nearby play
What is a basic definition of play?
A play is a performance that is done on a stage or in a theater. Play also means to engage in a fun activity or to emit sound or video from a media device. Play has many other senses as both a noun and a verb.
In theater, a play is a performance during which actors recite lines from a script and perform the actions of the characters. The written work that includes the dialogue and story is also called a play. A person who writes plays is known as a playwright.
Used in a sentence: My boyfriend and I are going to see a play tomorrow.
Play means to engage in something fun or enjoyable. A person who plays is called a player.
Real-life examples: Children play games during recess. Athletes play sports. Musicians play instruments. Gamblers play card games. Animal lovers play with their pets.
Used in a sentence: I like to play basketball with my friends after school.
Play also means to produce sound or images on a media device.
Real-life examples: A “play button” on a remote control or a YouTube video is what you press to tell a device, program, or app to begin producing sound and/or video. The play symbol usually resembles a triangle pointed to the right.
Used in a sentence: The DJ booth played great music while everybody danced.
Where does play come from?
The first records of the word play come from before 900. As a noun, it ultimately comes from the Old English plega. As a verb, it ultimately comes from the Old English plegian, which is related to the Middle Dutch pleien, meaning “to leap for joy” or “to rejoice.”
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What are some other forms related to play?
- playingly (adverb)
- playless (adjective)
- playlike (adjective)
- counterplay (noun)
- playability (noun)
- playable (adjective)
What are some synonyms for play?
What are some words that share a root or word element with play?
What are some words that often get used in discussing play?
How is play used in real life?
Play is most often used to mean someone is having fun or is using a media device to entertain themselves.
I am 30 years old. I am graduating from grad school next month (knock on wood). I just had a stress dream where I ruined my high school play because I didn't know my lines.
— the third mel in the spice girls (@shorthoneybee) November 9, 2020
I am having a hard time studying for my economics final for many reasons but the biggest thing is every time I read about monopolies I just want to play monopoly
— Molly O'Regan (@MollyORegan23) November 19, 2020
Moms love playing videos on their phone at max volume
— maya (@mayajkn) November 24, 2020
Try using play!
Which of the following words is most closely related to play?
Example sentences from the Web for play
You can say this verbatim because it doesn’t put his chef-feelings in play.Carolyn Hax: How to improve on ‘I cook, you clean’ without stirring the pot|Carolyn Hax|February 12, 2021|Washington Post
Also working in the Capitals’ favor has been an unexpected week off — the result of three games postponed because of coronavirus issues — after less than a month of play.For first time in three weeks, Capitals could be at full strength Sunday|Samantha Pell|February 11, 2021|Washington Post
There is at least some indication that Williams might also be struggling with her very next stroke following a return hit in play.How Serena Williams Could Finally Break The Grand Slam Record|Amy Lundy|February 10, 2021|FiveThirtyEight
So far during Big Ten play, 17 men’s basketball games have been postponed.Big Ten moves men’s basketball tournament to Indianapolis|Emily Giambalvo|February 9, 2021|Washington Post
He believed his front seven could stop running plays even with the safeties backed up.What went wrong for the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes in a brutal Super Bowl defeat|Adam Kilgore|February 8, 2021|Washington Post
Have there been discussions with FX regarding an Archer movie, and how do you think that would play out?‘Archer’ Creator Adam Reed Spills Season 6 Secrets, From Surreal Plotlines to Life Post-ISIS|Marlow Stern|January 8, 2015|DAILY BEAST
Father Joel Román Salazar died in a car crash in 2013; his death was ruled an accident, but the suspicion of foul play persists.
He plays an aging punk rocker and I play the drummer from his old band.Coffee Talk with Fred Armisen: On ‘Portlandia,’ Meeting Obama, and Taylor Swift’s Greatness|Marlow Stern|January 7, 2015|DAILY BEAST
When fathers hold and play with their children, oxytocin and prolactin kick in, priming them for bonding.
Ironically, the play deals with the ‘management’ of information by the Establishment.Harry’s Daddy, and Diana’s ‘Murder’: Royal Rumors In a New Play|Tom Sykes|January 4, 2015|DAILY BEAST
I assure you, no matter how beautifully we play any piece, the minute Liszt plays it, you would scarcely recognize it!
But I hope at least to play to him a few times, and what is more important, to hear him play repeatedly.
To fill up the time till Liszt came, our hostess made us play, one after the other, beginning with the latest arrival.
Again the sallow fingers began to play with the book-covers, passing from one to another, but always slowly and gently.Bella Donna|Robert Hichens
Her attachment to impressionism leads this artist to many experiments in color—or, as one critic wrote, "to play with color."Women in the fine arts, from the Seventh Century B.C. to the Twentieth Century A.D.|Clara Erskine Clement
British Dictionary definitions for play
- to reproduce (a tune, melody, piece of music, note, etc) on an instrument
- to perform works by (a specific composer)to play Brahms
- the performance of a dramatic composition
- (in combination)playreader
- games, exercise, or other activity undertaken for pleasure, diversion, etc, esp by children
- (in combination)playroom
- (as modifier)play dough
- to make an obvious attempt to gain
- to attempt to attract or seduce
Derived forms of playplayability, nounplayable, adjective
Word Origin for play
Idioms and Phrases with 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
- 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