play up

  1. (tr) to emphasize or highlight: to play up one's best features

  2. British informal to behave irritatingly (towards)

  1. (intr) British informal (of a machine, car, etc) to function erratically: the car is playing up again

  2. British informal to hurt; give (one) pain or trouble: my back's playing me up again

  3. play up to

    • to support (another actor) in a performance

    • to try to gain favour with by flattery

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

How to use play up in a sentence

  • I was afraid you wouldn't like it, but you must try to understand that I was forced to play up to local sentiment.

    The Girl From Keller's | Harold Bindloss
  • He was clever enough at his work, but it was difficult to make him play games, and impossible to make him play up.

    The Secret Glory | Arthur Machen
  • The notch in the guard must be long enough to give the bolt free play up and down.

  • "I suppose you think you're going to cut the youngster out as well with the other one, and play up with her," Barber added.

    Colonial Born | G. Firth Scott
  • They embarked as natives in a native ship, and from the very outset they found it necessary to play up to their disguise.

    The Gates of India | Thomas Holdich

Other Idioms and Phrases with play up

play up

Emphasize or publicize, as in In the press interview, the coach played up the importance of having a strong defense. [c. 1900] Also see play down; play up to.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.