(tr) to emphasize or highlight: to play up one's best features
British informal to behave irritatingly (towards)
(intr) British informal (of a machine, car, etc) to function erratically: the car is playing up again
British informal to hurt; give (one) pain or trouble: my back's playing me up again
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
The dress bizarrely burdened Hurley with a ready-made character to play up to, which she did without overt complaint.Happy 20th Birthday, Liz Hurley’s Safety-Pin Dress | Tim Teeman | December 12, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
All the women in this video play up subtle sexiness between colored neon, film noir lighting, and sexy silhouettes.Phoenix, Ciara & More Best Music Videos of the Week (VIDEO) | Victoria Kezra | July 7, 2013 | THE DAILY BEAST
Certainly the Obama campaign tried to play up the age difference.‘A Lifetime of Experience’ May Hinder Hillary Clinton in 2016 | Stuart Stevens | July 2, 2013 | THE DAILY BEAST
And, like Fox, ABC seems to want to play up limited event-driven programming.
As a result, media and Netizens are tempted to play up sexy angles.Lei Zhengfu Sex Tape: China Mesmerized by Once-Taboo Topics of Politics and Porn | Melinda Liu | November 28, 2012 | THE DAILY BEAST
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.Shelters, Shacks and Shanties | D.C. Beard
"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
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.