Definitions for PLAYpleɪ

This page provides all possible meanings and translations of the word PLAY

Random House Webster's College Dictionary


  1. a dramatic composition; drama.

  2. a dramatic performance, as on the stage.

  3. activity, often spontaneous, engaged in for recreation, as by children.

  4. fun or jest, as opposed to earnest:

    I said it merely in play.

  5. a pun.

  6. the action or conduct of a game:

    the fourth inning of play.

  7. an act or instance of playing:

    a play that cost us the match.

  8. manner or style of playing.

  9. one's turn to play.

  10. a playing for stakes; gambling.

  11. an often crafty maneuver:

    a takeover play.

    Category: Common Vocabulary

  12. an enterprise; venture.

    Category: Stock Exchange

  13. action of a specified kind:

    foul play.

  14. action, activity, or operation:

    the play of fancy.

  15. brisk, light, or changing movement or action:

    the play of a fountain.

  16. elusive change:

    the play of a searchlight against the night sky.

  17. a space in which something, as a part of a mechanism, can move.

  18. freedom of movement within a space.

  19. freedom or scope for activity:

    full play of the mind.

  20. attention; coverage:

    The scandal got a big play in the papers.

    Category: Common Vocabulary

  21. an act or instance of being broadcast.

    Category: Common Vocabulary

  22. (v.t.)to portray; enact:

    to play Macbeth.

  23. to perform (a drama, pantomime, etc.).

  24. to act the part or character of in real life:

    to play the fool; to play God.

  25. to act or sustain (a part):

    Economics played a part in the decision.

  26. to give performances in:

    to play the big cities.

  27. to engage in (a game, pastime, etc.).

  28. to contend against in a game.

  29. to perform in (a specified position or role) in a game or competition:

    to play center field.

  30. to employ in a game:

    I played my highest card.

  31. to use as if in playing a game, esp. for one's own advantage:

    He played his brothers against each other.

  32. to stake or wager, as in a game.

  33. to lay a wager or wagers on (something).

  34. to represent or imitate, as for recreation:

    to play cowboys and Indians.

  35. to perform or be able to perform on (a musical instrument).

  36. to perform (music) on an instrument.

  37. to perform the music of (a composer).

  38. to cause to produce sound or pictures:

    played the VCR.

    Category: Common Vocabulary

  39. to perform or carry out, esp. as a sly or deceitful action:

    to play tricks.

  40. to put into operation; act upon:

    to play a hunch.

  41. to cause to move or change lightly or quickly:

    to play lights on a fountain.

  42. to operate or cause to operate, esp. continuously or with repeated action:

    to play a hose on a fire.

  43. to allow (a hooked fish) to exhaust itself by pulling on the line.

    Category: Sport

  44. to display or feature (a news story, photograph, etc.), esp. prominently:

    Play the flood photos on page one.

    Category: Common Vocabulary

  45. to exploit or trade in:

    to play the stock market.

    Category: Business

  46. (v.i.)to occupy oneself in diversion, amusement, or recreation.

  47. to do something that is not to be taken seriously; sport.

  48. to amuse oneself; toy; trifle (often fol. by with).

  49. to take part in a game.

  50. to take part in a game for stakes; gamble.

  51. to conduct oneself or act in a specified way:

    to play fair.

  52. to act on or as if on the stage; perform.

  53. to perform on a musical instrument.

  54. (of an instrument or music) to sound in performance.

  55. to give forth sound:

    The radio played all night.

    Category: Common Vocabulary

  56. to be performed or shown:

    What's playing at the theater?

  57. to be capable of or suitable for performance, as a dramatic script.

  58. to be received; go over:

    How will the proposal play with the public?

    Category: Common Vocabulary

  59. to move freely within a space, as a part of a mechanism.

  60. to move about lightly, quickly, or irregularly:

    A smile played about her lips.

  61. to operate continuously or with repeated action.

  62. to comply; cooperate.

  63. play along, to cooperate or concur. to pretend to cooperate or concur.

    Category: Verb Phrase

  64. play around, to behave in a playful or frivolous manner. to have promiscuous or adulterous sexual relations.

    Category: Verb Phrase

  65. play at, to pretend to do or be. to do without seriousness.

    Category: Verb Phrase

  66. play down, to treat as of little importance; minimize.

    Category: Verb Phrase

  67. play off, to play an extra game or round in order to settle a tie. to set (one person or thing) against another, usu. for one's own gain or advantage.

    Category: Verb Phrase, Sport

  68. play on or upon, to exploit the weaknesses of; take advantage of:

    played on his generosity.

    Category: Verb Phrase

  69. play up, to emphasize the importance of; highlight or publicize.

    Category: Common Vocabulary, Verb Phrase

  70. play up to, to attempt to please or impress in order to gain the favor of.

    Category: Verb Phrase

Idioms for play:

  1. bring into play,to cause to be introduced, considered, or used.

    Category: Idiom

  2. make a play for, to employ stratagems to attract or gain.

    Category: Idiom

  3. play both ends against the middle,to maneuver opposing groups in order to benefit oneself.

    Category: Idiom

  4. play fast and loose with,to behave cavalierly toward; deal irresponsibly with.

    Category: Idiom

  5. play for time,to forestall an event or decision.

    Category: Idiom

  6. play into the hands of, to act in such a way as to give an advantage to (someone, esp. an opponent). Also, play into (someone's) hands.

    Category: Idiom

  7. play one's cards right or well,to maneuver skillfully.

    Category: Idiom

  8. play the field, to date a number of persons during the same period of time.

    Category: Idiom, Informal

  9. play with a full deck,Slang. to be sane (used esp. in the negative).

    Category: Idiom

  10. play with oneself,to masturbate.

    Category: Idiom

Origin of play:

bef. 900; (n.) ME pleye, OE plega; (v.) ME pleyen, OE pleg(i)an, c. MD pleien to leap for joy, dance, rejoice)

Princeton's WordNet

  1. play, drama, dramatic play(noun)

    a dramatic work intended for performance by actors on a stage

    "he wrote several plays but only one was produced on Broadway"

  2. play(noun)

    a theatrical performance of a drama

    "the play lasted two hours"

  3. play(noun)

    a preset plan of action in team sports

    "the coach drew up the plays for her team"

  4. maneuver, manoeuvre, play(noun)

    a deliberate coordinated movement requiring dexterity and skill

    "he made a great maneuver"; "the runner was out on a play by the shortstop"

  5. play(noun)

    a state in which action is feasible

    "the ball was still in play"; "insiders said the company's stock was in play"

  6. play(noun)

    utilization or exercise

    "the play of the imagination"

  7. bid, play(noun)

    an attempt to get something

    "they made a futile play for power"; "he made a bid to gain attention"

  8. play, child's play(noun)

    activity by children that is guided more by imagination than by fixed rules

    "Freud believed in the utility of play to a small child"

  9. playing period, period of play, play(noun)

    (in games or plays or other performances) the time during which play proceeds

    "rain stopped play in the 4th inning"

  10. free rein, play(noun)

    the removal of constraints

    "he gave free rein to his impulses"; "they gave full play to the artist's talent"

  11. shimmer, play(noun)

    a weak and tremulous light

    "the shimmer of colors on iridescent feathers"; "the play of light on the water"

  12. fun, play, sport(noun)

    verbal wit or mockery (often at another's expense but not to be taken seriously)

    "he became a figure of fun"; "he said it in sport"

  13. looseness, play(noun)

    movement or space for movement

    "there was too much play in the steering wheel"

  14. play, frolic, romp, gambol, caper(noun)

    gay or light-hearted recreational activity for diversion or amusement

    "it was all done in play"; "their frolic in the surf threatened to become ugly"

  15. turn, play(noun)

    (game) the activity of doing something in an agreed succession

    "it is my turn"; "it is still my play"

  16. gambling, gaming, play(noun)

    the act of playing for stakes in the hope of winning (including the payment of a price for a chance to win a prize)

    "his gambling cost him a fortune"; "there was heavy play at the blackjack table"

  17. play, swordplay(verb)

    the act using a sword (or other weapon) vigorously and skillfully

  18. play(verb)

    participate in games or sport

    "We played hockey all afternoon"; "play cards"; "Pele played for the Brazilian teams in many important matches"

  19. play(verb)

    act or have an effect in a specified way or with a specific effect or outcome

    "This factor played only a minor part in his decision"; "This development played into her hands"; "I played no role in your dismissal"

  20. play(verb)

    play on an instrument

    "The band played all night long"

  21. act, play, represent(verb)

    play a role or part

    "Gielgud played Hamlet"; "She wants to act Lady Macbeth, but she is too young for the role"; "She played the servant to her husband's master"

  22. play(verb)

    be at play; be engaged in playful activity; amuse oneself in a way characteristic of children

    "The kids were playing outside all day"; "I used to play with trucks as a little girl"

  23. play, spiel(verb)

    replay (as a melody)

    "Play it again, Sam"; "She played the third movement very beautifully"

  24. play(verb)

    perform music on (a musical instrument)

    "He plays the flute"; "Can you play on this old recorder?"

  25. act, play, act as(verb)

    pretend to have certain qualities or state of mind

    "He acted the idiot"; "She plays deaf when the news are bad"

  26. play(verb)

    move or seem to move quickly, lightly, or irregularly

    "The spotlights played on the politicians"

  27. play(verb)

    bet or wager (money)

    "He played $20 on the new horse"; "She plays the races"

  28. play, recreate(verb)

    engage in recreational activities rather than work; occupy oneself in a diversion

    "On weekends I play"; "The students all recreate alike"

  29. play(verb)

    pretend to be somebody in the framework of a game or playful activity

    "Let's play like I am mommy"; "Play cowboy and Indians"

  30. play(verb)

    emit recorded sound

    "The tape was playing for hours"; "the stereo was playing Beethoven when I entered"

  31. play(verb)

    perform on a certain location

    "The prodigy played Carnegie Hall at the age of 16"; "She has been playing on Broadway for years"

  32. play(verb)

    put (a card or piece) into play during a game, or act strategically as if in a card game

    "He is playing his cards close to his chest"; "The Democrats still have some cards to play before they will concede the electoral victory"

  33. play, toy(verb)

    engage in an activity as if it were a game rather than take it seriously

    "They played games on their opponents"; "play the stock market"; "play with her feelings"; "toy with an idea"

  34. play(verb)

    behave in a certain way

    "play safe"; "play it safe"; "play fair"

  35. play, run(verb)

    cause to emit recorded audio or video

    "They ran the tapes over and over again"; "I'll play you my favorite record"; "He never tires of playing that video"

  36. toy, fiddle, diddle, play(verb)

    manipulate manually or in one's mind or imagination

    "She played nervously with her wedding ring"; "Don't fiddle with the screws"; "He played with the idea of running for the Senate"

  37. play(verb)

    use to one's advantage

    "She plays on her clients' emotions"

  38. dally, trifle, play(verb)

    consider not very seriously

    "He is trifling with her"; "She plays with the thought of moving to Tasmania"

  39. play(verb)

    be received or accepted or interpreted in a specific way

    "This speech didn't play well with the American public"; "His remarks played to the suspicions of the committee"

  40. dally, toy, play, flirt(verb)

    behave carelessly or indifferently

    "Play about with a young girl's affection"

  41. play(verb)

    cause to move or operate freely within a bounded space

    "The engine has a wheel that is playing in a rack"

  42. act, play, roleplay, playact(verb)

    perform on a stage or theater

    "She acts in this play"; "He acted in `Julius Caesar'"; "I played in `A Christmas Carol'"

  43. play(verb)

    be performed or presented for public viewing

    "What's playing in the local movie theater?"; "`Cats' has been playing on Broadway for many years"

  44. bring, work, play, wreak, make for(verb)

    cause to happen or to occur as a consequence

    "I cannot work a miracle"; "wreak havoc"; "bring comments"; "play a joke"; "The rain brought relief to the drought-stricken area"

  45. play(verb)

    discharge or direct or be discharged or directed as if in a continuous stream

    "play water from a hose"; "The fountains played all day"

  46. play(verb)

    make bets

    "Play the races"; "play the casinos in Trouville"

  47. bet, wager, play(verb)

    stake on the outcome of an issue

    "I bet $100 on that new horse"; "She played all her money on the dark horse"

  48. play(verb)

    shoot or hit in a particular manner

    "She played a good backhand last night"

  49. play(verb)

    use or move

    "I had to play my queen"

  50. play(verb)

    employ in a game or in a specific position

    "They played him on first base"

  51. meet, encounter, play, take on(verb)

    contend against an opponent in a sport, game, or battle

    "Princeton plays Yale this weekend"; "Charlie likes to play Mary"

  52. play(verb)

    exhaust by allowing to pull on the line

    "play a hooked fish"

Kernerman English Learner's Dictionary

  1. play(verb)ɪ

    to spend time as children do, doing activities, using imagination, etc.

    They're outside playing with their friends.; Let's play princesses.

  2. playɪ

    to take part in a game or sport

    Do you like to play football/basketball/tennis/hockey etc.?; kids playing a game of hide-and-seek; Cleveland plays Tampa Bay in next week's game.

  3. playɪ

    to have a particular position on a team

    He plays first base/left back etc.

  4. playɪ

    to perform a piece of music or perform on an instrument

    He plays the piano/guitar/trumpet etc.; The band was playing their most popular song.; The audience was entranced as they listened to her play.

  5. playɪ

    to act as a particular character

    She plays the mother in the film.; Brando plays the part of the Godfather.

  6. playɪ

    (of a movie, play, musical show, etc.) to be currently being shown or performed

    The movie's playing at the Westwood Theater.

  7. playɪ

    to trick

    He played a trick on us.

  8. playɪ

    to influence or be involved in

    Her parents played a part in her decision to go to Yale.; The city played a significant role in the defeat of the rebels.

  9. playɪ

    to agree to take part in or join an agreement, activity, etc.

    We've found a few other companies who are willing to play ball.

  10. playɪ

    to try to hide information or deceive

    Are drug companies playing games with our health?

  11. playɪ

    to do sth that involves a lot of risk

    Coaches who let injured players participate in games are playing with fire.

  12. playɪ

    to behave in a particular way in order to achieve an effect

    I decided to play it cool and pretend I didn't care.

  13. play(noun)ɪ

    a performance of a story by actors on a stage

    Our class went to see a play.; The theater group is putting on a play.

  14. playɪ

    a particular action in a sport, or the action of playing a particular game

    the first play of the game; The referee blew the whistle to stop play.

  15. playɪ

    the activities of children when they play

    children at play in the school yard

  16. playɪ

    to begin to have an influence

    Their team is bigger, but that's where our good defense comes into play.

  17. playɪ

    a funny or witty use of a word or phrase that has two meanings

Webster Dictionary

  1. Play(noun)

    to engage in sport or lively recreation; to exercise for the sake of amusement; to frolic; to spot

  2. Play(noun)

    to act with levity or thoughtlessness; to trifle; to be careless

  3. Play(noun)

    to contend, or take part, in a game; as, to play ball; hence, to gamble; as, he played for heavy stakes

  4. Play(noun)

    to perform on an instrument of music; as, to play on a flute

  5. Play(noun)

    to act; to behave; to practice deception

  6. Play(noun)

    to move in any manner; especially, to move regularly with alternate or reciprocating motion; to operate; to act; as, the fountain plays

  7. Play(noun)

    to move gayly; to wanton; to disport

  8. Play(noun)

    to act on the stage; to personate a character

  9. Play(verb)

    to put in action or motion; as, to play cannon upon a fortification; to play a trump

  10. Play(verb)

    to perform music upon; as, to play the flute or the organ

  11. Play(verb)

    to perform, as a piece of music, on an instrument; as, to play a waltz on the violin

  12. Play(verb)

    to bring into sportive or wanton action; to exhibit in action; to execute; as, to play tricks

  13. Play(verb)

    to act or perform (a play); to represent in music action; as, to play a comedy; also, to act in the character of; to represent by acting; to simulate; to behave like; as, to play King Lear; to play the woman

  14. Play(verb)

    to engage in, or go together with, as a contest for amusement or for a wager or prize; as, to play a game at baseball

  15. Play(verb)

    to keep in play, as a hooked fish, in order to land it

  16. Play(noun)

    amusement; sport; frolic; gambols

  17. Play(noun)

    any exercise, or series of actions, intended for amusement or diversion; a game

  18. Play(noun)

    the act or practice of contending for victory, amusement, or a prize, as at dice, cards, or billiards; gaming; as, to lose a fortune in play

  19. Play(noun)

    action; use; employment; exercise; practice; as, fair play; sword play; a play of wit

  20. Play(noun)

    a dramatic composition; a comedy or tragedy; a composition in which characters are represented by dialogue and action

  21. Play(noun)

    the representation or exhibition of a comedy or tragedy; as, he attends ever play

  22. Play(noun)

    performance on an instrument of music

  23. Play(noun)

    motion; movement, regular or irregular; as, the play of a wheel or piston; hence, also, room for motion; free and easy action

  24. Play(noun)

    hence, liberty of acting; room for enlargement or display; scope; as, to give full play to mirth


  1. Play

    A play is a form of literature written by a playwright, usually consisting of scripted dialogue between characters, intended for theatrical performance rather than just reading. Plays are performed at a variety of levels, from Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional theater, to Community theatre, as well a University or school productions. There are rare dramatists, notably George Bernard Shaw, who have had little preference whether their plays were performed or read. The term "play" can refer to both the written works of playwrights and to their complete theatrical performance.

The Roycroft Dictionary

  1. play

    A wise method of Nature which prevents one's nerves from setting on the outside of his Stein-Bloch.

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'PLAY' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #719

  2. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'PLAY' in Written Corpus Frequency: #469

  3. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'PLAY' in Nouns Frequency: #599

  4. Verbs Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'PLAY' in Verbs Frequency: #54

Translations for PLAY

Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary


recreation; amusement

A person must have time for both work and play.

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