Nearby words

  1. gambol,
  2. gambrel,
  3. gambrel roof,
  4. gambrinus,
  5. gambusia,
  6. game bird,
  7. game birds,
  8. game chips,
  9. game face,
  10. game fish


Origin of game

before 1000; Middle English gamen, Old English gaman; cognate with Old High German gaman glee

Related formsgame·less, adjectivegame·like, adjectivegame·ness, nounun·game·like, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for play games




an amusement or pastime; diversion
a contest with rules, the result being determined by skill, strength, or chance
a single period of play in such a contest, sport, etc
the score needed to win a contest
a single contest in a series; match
(plural; often capital) an event consisting of various sporting contests, esp in athleticsOlympic Games; Highland Games
equipment needed for playing certain games
short for computer game
style or ability in playing a gamehe is a keen player but his game is not good
a scheme, proceeding, etc, practised like a gamethe game of politics
an activity undertaken in a spirit of levity; jokemarriage is just a game to him
  1. wild animals, including birds and fish, hunted for sport, food, or profit
  2. (as modifier)game laws
the flesh of such animals, used as food: generally taken not to include fish
an object of pursuit; quarry; prey (esp in the phrase fair game)
informal work or occupation
informal a trick, strategy, or deviceI can see through your little game
obsolete pluck or courage; bravery
slang, mainly British prostitution (esp in the phrase on the game)
give the game away to reveal one's intentions or a secret
make game of or make a game of to make fun of; ridicule; mock
off one's game playing badly
on one's game playing well
play the game to behave fairly or in accordance with rules
the game is up there is no longer a chance of success


informal full of fighting spirit; plucky; brave
game as Ned Kelly or as game as Ned Kelly Australian informal extremely brave; indomitable
(usually foll by for) informal prepared or ready; willingI'm game for a try


(intr) to play games of chance for money, stakes, etc; gamble
Derived Formsgamelike, adjective

Word Origin for game

Old English gamen; related to Old Norse gaman, Old High German gaman amusement




a less common word for lame 1 game leg

Word Origin for game

C18: probably from Irish cam crooked

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 play games
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with play games

play games

Be evasive or deceptive, as in Don't play games with me—I want an honest answer. Also see play the game.


In addition to the idioms beginning with game

  • game is not worth the candle, the
  • game is up, the
  • game that two can play, that's a

also see:

  • ahead of the game
  • at this stage (of the game)
  • badger game
  • beat someone at his or her own game
  • call someone's bluff (game)
  • confidence game
  • end game
  • fair game
  • fun and games

give away (the game)losing battle (game)name of the gameonly game in townplay a waiting gameplay gamesplay the gamewaiting gamewhole new ball game.

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