What does play mean?

Definitions for playpleɪ

Here are all the possible meanings and translations of the word play.

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"

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

  25. Origin: [OE. pleien, AS. plegian, plegan, to play, akin to plega play, game, quick motion, and probably to OS. plegan to promise, pledge, D. plegen to care for, attend to, be wont, G. pflegen; of unknown origin. 28. Cf. Plight, n.]


  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.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Play

    plā, v.i. to engage in some amusing exercise: to take part in a game, or a piece of diversion: to gamble: to sport: to trifle: to move irregularly or (mech.) freely: to operate: to act in a theatre: to perform on a musical instrument: to practise a trick: to act a character: to act with repeated strokes.—v.t. to put in motion: to perform upon: to perform: to act a sportive part: to compete with.—n. amusement: any exercise for amusement: a contending for victory or for a prize: practice in a contest: gaming: action or use: manner of dealing, as fair-play: a dramatic composition: movement: room for action or motion: liberty of action.—ns. Play′-act′or, one who acts a part in a play: an actor; Play′-act′orism, the manner or habits of a play-actor; Play′-bill, a bill or advertisement of a play; Play′book, a book of plays or dramas; Play′-club, a wooden-headed golf-club used for driving the ball the longest distances; Play′-day, Play′-time, a day devoted to play: a holiday; Play′er, one who plays: an actor of plays or dramas: a trifler: a musician: a professional at cricket; Play′fellow, Play′mate, a fellow or mate in play or amusements.—adj. Play′ful, given to play: sportive.—adv. Play′fully.—ns. Play′fulness; Play′-gō′er, one who habitually attends the theatre; Play′-gō′ing; Play′-ground, a ground or place on which to play, esp. that connected with a school; Play′-house, a house where dramatic performances are represented: a theatre; Play′ing-card, one of a set of fifty-two cards used in playing games; Play′-mare, the hobby-horse, one of the chief parts in the ancient morris-dance; Play′thing, anything for playing with: a toy; Play′wright, Play′-writ′er, a writer of plays: one who adapts dramatic compositions for the stage.—Played out, worked to the end: used up: tired; Play fast and loose, to act in a tricky, inconstant way: to say one thing and do another; Play fine, at billiards, to strike the object-ball near the edge—opp. to Play full, to strike it nearer the centre than the edge; Play off, to show or display; Play up, to make a beginning of playing: to play more vigorously; Play upon, to trifle with: to delude.—A play upon words, a use of words so as to give them a double meaning; Bring into play, to bring into exercise or use; Come into play, to come into use; Hold in play, to keep the attention of. [A.S. plegan, to play.]

The Roycroft Dictionary

  1. play

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

Suggested Resources

  1. play

    Song lyrics by play -- Explore a large variety of song lyrics performed by play on the Lyrics.com website.

  2. PLAY

    What does PLAY stand for? -- Explore the various meanings for the PLAY acronym on the Abbreviations.com website.

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


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of play in Chaldean Numerology is: 4

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of play in Pythagorean Numerology is: 9

Sample Sentences & Example Usage

  1. Ernie Banks:

    Let's play two

  2. Louis Armstrong:

    What we play is life.

  3. Flemming Ornskov:

    This is a growth play.

  4. Jameis Winston:

    It was just a crazy play.

  5. Eddie Murphy:

    Play 'Party All the Time'.

Images & Illustrations of play

  1. playplayplay

Translations for play

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • مسرحية, دَوْر, مسرح, لَعِب, عَزَفَ, لَعِبَ, مَثَّلَ, شَغَّلَ, لعبArabic
  • грацьBelarusian
  • joc, obra, participar, tocar, jugar, actuarCatalan, Valencian
  • ghjucàCorsican
  • hra, hrátCzech
  • drama, gêm, chwaraeWelsh
  • stykke, leg, spilDanish
  • Spiel, Schauspiel, spielen, abspielenGerman
  • fefeEwe
  • παίζω, παιχνίδιGreek
  • teatraĵo, ludo, ludi, roliEsperanto
  • jugada, obra, juego, jugar, [[jugar]] a, tocar, actuar, reproducirSpanish
  • jokaBasque
  • teatr, بازی کردن, بازیPersian
  • näytelmä, peli, välys, leikki, löysä, kenttä, esiintymä, klappi, siirto, soittaa, pelata, hoitaa, näytellä, leikkiäFinnish
  • spæla, leikaFaroese
  • pièce de théâtre, jeu, tourner, lancer, jouer, [[jouer]] ([[à]]), amuser, mettre, interpréterFrench
  • dráma, imirt, ligean, súgradh, imir, seinnIrish
  • cleasachd, cluich, cleasaichScottish Gaelic
  • xogo, tocar, xogarGalician
  • משחק, שעשוע, שיחק, ניגן, השתעשע, השמיעHebrew
  • बजाना, खेलना, प्लेHindi
  • darab, játék, holtjáték, színdarab, játszik, lejátszik, játszaniHungarian
  • խաղ, ներկայացում, նվագարկել, խաղալ, նվագելArmenian
  • jocarInterlingua
  • pentas, bermainIndonesian
  • spila á, leika sér, spila, leikaIcelandic
  • dramma, gioco, giocare, riproduci, recitare, suonareItalian
  • לְשַׂחֵקHebrew
  • 遊び, 演劇, 演奏, 吹く, 奏でる, 遊ぶ, 演奏する, 叩く, 弾く, 遊びますJapanese
  • თამაშობა, უკრავს, თამაშიGeorgian
  • 연극, 놀다, 연기를 하다, 놀이Korean
  • tiyatro, lîstik, یاری, yarî, وازی, şano, piyes, یاری کردن, لێدان, مۆسیقا لێدانKurdish
  • fabula, ludus, lūdō, cano, inflo, sono, ludereLatin
  • žaisti, grotiLithuanian
  • spēle, luga, rotaļa, atskaņot, spēlēt, tēlotLatvian
  • whakatangiMāori
  • игра, потег, представа, драма, пиеса, пушта, свири, глумиMacedonian
  • നാടകം, കളിMalayalam
  • bermainMalay
  • ဆော့, ကစားBurmese
  • skuespillNorwegian
  • schouwspel, optreden, stuk, spelbeweging, toneelstuk, spel, bespelen, spelen, afspelen, meespelenDutch
  • spel, skodespelNorwegian Nynorsk
  • skuespill, spill, leke, spilleNorwegian
  • naashnéNavajo, Navaho
  • gra, sztuka, zabawa, odtwarzać, występować, grać, bawić sięPolish
  • لوبې كول, ږغول, لوبه كول, لوبولPashto, Pushto
  • jogo, brincadeira, tocar, jogar, atuar, representar, reproduzir, brincar, ToquePortuguese
  • pukllay, takiyQuechua
  • giugarRomansh
  • joc, cânta, juca, JoacaRomanian
  • игра, зазор, пьеса, спектакль, свободный ход, люфт, игра́ть, поигра́ть, игратьRussian
  • ìgra, prèdstava, представа, игра, ȉgrati, и̏гратиSerbo-Croatian
  • hra, hrať, hrať saSlovak
  • igra, igrati, igrati se, predvajatiSlovene
  • lojëAlbanian
  • pjäs, spel, drag, lek, spela, leka, spela upp, ageraSwedish
  • tamthiliaSwahili
  • விளையாடTamil
  • నాటకం, ఆడుTelugu
  • เล่นThai
  • laro, dula, tumugtog, maglaroTagalog
  • tiyatro oyunu, oyun, oynamak, çalmakTurkish
  • гра, гра́ти, гратиUkrainian
  • کھیلنا, بجانا, کھیلنےUrdu
  • chơiVietnamese
  • שפּילןYiddish
  • Chinese

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