Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To occupy oneself in amusement, sport, or other recreation: children playing with toys.
  • intransitive v. To take part in a game: No minors are eligible to play.
  • intransitive v. To participate in betting; gamble.
  • intransitive v. To act in jest or sport: They're not arguing in earnest, they're just playing.
  • intransitive v. To deal or behave carelessly or indifferently; toy. See Synonyms at flirt.
  • intransitive v. To behave or converse sportively or playfully.
  • intransitive v. To act or conduct oneself in a specified way: play fair; an investor who plays cautiously.
  • intransitive v. To act, especially in a dramatic production.
  • intransitive v. Music To perform on an instrument: play on an accordion.
  • intransitive v. Music To emit sound or be sounded in performance: The band is playing.
  • intransitive v. To be performed, as in a theater or on television: A good movie is playing tonight.
  • intransitive v. To be received or accepted: a speech that played poorly with the voters.
  • intransitive v. To move or seem to move quickly, lightly, or irregularly: The breeze played on the water.
  • intransitive v. To function or discharge uninterruptedly: The fountains played in the courtyard.
  • intransitive v. To move or operate freely within a bounded space, as machine parts do.
  • transitive v. To perform or act (a role or part) in a dramatic performance.
  • transitive v. To assume the role of; act as: played the peacemaker at the meeting.
  • transitive v. To perform (a theatrical work) on or as if on the stage.
  • transitive v. To present a theatrical performance in (a given place): The company played Detroit last week.
  • transitive v. To pretend to be; mimic the activities of: played cowboy; played the star.
  • transitive v. To engage in (a game or sport): play hockey; play chess.
  • transitive v. To compete against in a game or sport.
  • transitive v. To occupy or work at (a position) in a game: Lou Gehrig played first base.
  • transitive v. To employ (a player) in a game or position: Let's play her at first base.
  • transitive v. To use or move (a card or piece) in a game: play the ace of clubs
  • transitive v. To hit (a ball, shot, or stroke), as in tennis: played a strong backhand.
  • transitive v. To attempt to keep or gain possession or control of: No foul was called because he was playing the ball.
  • transitive v. To bet; wager: played ten dollars on the horse.
  • transitive v. To make bets on: play the races.
  • transitive v. To perform or put into effect, especially as a jest or deception: play a joke on a friend.
  • transitive v. To handle; manage: played the matter quietly.
  • transitive v. To use or manipulate, especially for one's own interests: played his opponents against each other.
  • transitive v. Music To perform on (an instrument): play the guitar.
  • transitive v. Music To perform (a piece) on instruments or an instrument.
  • transitive v. To cause (a compact disk or audiocassette, for example) to emit recorded sounds.
  • transitive v. To discharge or direct in or as if in a continuous stream: play a hose on a fire.
  • transitive v. To cause to move rapidly, lightly, or irregularly: play lights over the dance floor.
  • transitive v. To exhaust (a hooked fish) by allowing it to pull on the line.
  • n. A literary work written for performance on the stage; a drama.
  • n. The performance of such a work.
  • n. Activity engaged in for enjoyment or recreation.
  • n. Fun or jesting: It was all done in play.
  • n. The act or manner of engaging in a game or sport: After a time-out, play resumed. The golf tournament featured expert play.
  • n. The act or manner of using a card, piece, or ball in a game or sport: my partner's play of the last trump; his clumsy play of the rebound.
  • n. A move or an action in a game: It's your play. The runner was thrown out in a close play.
  • n. Participation in betting; gambling.
  • n. Manner of dealing with others; conduct: fair play.
  • n. An attempt to obtain something; a bid: a play for sympathy.
  • n. Action, motion, or use: the play of the imagination.
  • n. Freedom or occasion for action; scope: give full play to an artist's talents. See Synonyms at room.
  • n. Movement or space for movement, as of mechanical parts.
  • n. Quick, often irregular movement or action, especially of light or color: the play of color on iridescent feathers.
  • play along Informal To cooperate or pretend to cooperate: decided to play along with the robbers for a while.
  • play around To philander.
  • play at To participate in; engage in.
  • play at To do or take part in halfheartedly.
  • play back To replay (a recently recorded tape, for example).
  • play down To minimize the importance of; make little of: played down the defect to protect the troops' morale.
  • play off To establish the winner of (a tie) by playing in an additional game or series of games.
  • play off To participate in a playoff.
  • play off To set (one individual or party) in opposition to another so as to advance one's own interests: a parent who played off one child against another.
  • on To take advantage of (another's attitudes or feelings) for one's own interests: demagogues who play on popular fears.
  • play out To use up; exhaust: Our strength was played out early in the contest.
  • play up To emphasize or publicize: She played up her experience during the job interview.
  • idiom in play Sports In a position to be legally or feasibly played: The ball is now in play.
  • idiom in play In a position, or rumored to be in a position of possible corporate takeover: The company's stock rose in price when it was said to be in play.
  • idiom out of play Sports Not in a position to be legally or feasibly played.
  • idiom play ball Slang To cooperate: The opposing attorneys refused to play ball with us.
  • idiom play both ends against the middle To set opposing parties or interests against one another so as to advance one's own goals.
  • idiom play fast and loose To behave in a recklessly irresponsible or deceitful manner: played fast and loose with the facts.
  • idiom play for time To use delaying tactics; temporize.
  • idiom play games Slang To be evasive or deceptive: Quit playing games and tell me what you want.
  • idiom play hard to get To pretend to be inaccessible or uninterested, as when flirting.
  • idiom play in Peoria Slang To be acceptable to average constituents or consumers.
  • idiom play into the hands of To act or behave so as to give an advantage to (an opponent).
  • idiom play (one's) cards Informal To use the resources or strategies at one's disposal: played her cards right and got promoted.
  • idiom play possum To pretend to be sleeping or dead.
  • idiom play the field To date more than one person.
  • idiom play the game Informal To behave according to the accepted customs or standards.
  • idiom play up to To curry favor with.
  • idiom play with a full deck Slang To be of sound mind: didn't seem to be playing with a full deck.
  • idiom play with fire To take part in a dangerous or risky undertaking.
  • idiom play with (oneself) Vulgar Slang To masturbate.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To act in a manner such that one has fun; to engage in activities expressly for the purpose of recreation.
  • v. To take part in amorous activity; to make love, fornicate; to have sex.
  • v. To perform in a sport.
  • v. To participate in the game indicated.
  • v. To compete against, in a game
  • v. To act as the indicated role, especially in a performance.
  • v. To produce music using a musical instrument.
  • v. To produce music on the indicated musical instrument.
  • v. To produce music, the indicated song or style, with a musical instrument.
  • v. To use a device to watch or listen to the indicated recording.
  • v. Contrary to fact, to give an appearance of being.
  • n. Activity for amusement only, especially among the young.
  • n. The conduct, or course of a game.
  • n. An individual's performance in a sport or game.
  • n. (turn-based games) An action carried out when it is one's turn to play.
  • n. A literary composition, intended to be represented by actors impersonating the characters and speaking the dialogue.
  • n. A theatrical performance featuring actors.
  • n. A major move by a business.
  • n. A geological formation that contains an accumulation or prospect of hydrocarbons or other resources.
  • n. The extent to which a part of a mechanism can move freely.
  • n. Sexual role-playing.
  • n. this sense?) (countable) A button that, when pressed, causes media to be played.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To engage in sport or lively recreation; to exercise for the sake of amusement; to frolic; to spot.
  • intransitive v. To act with levity or thoughtlessness; to trifle; to be careless.
  • intransitive v. To contend, or take part, in a game; ; hence, to gamble.
  • intransitive v. To perform on an instrument of music.
  • intransitive v. To act; to behave; to practice deception.
  • intransitive v. To move in any manner; especially, to move regularly with alternate or reciprocating motion; to operate; to act.
  • intransitive v. To move gayly; to wanton; to disport.
  • intransitive v. To act on the stage; to personate a character.
  • transitive v. To put in action or motion
  • transitive v. To perform music upon.
  • transitive v. To perform, as a piece of music, on an instrument.
  • transitive v. To bring into sportive or wanton action; to exhibit in action; to execute.
  • transitive v. To act or perform (a play); to represent in music action; ; also, to act in the character of; to represent by acting; to simulate; to behave like
  • transitive v. To engage in, or go together with, as a contest for amusement or for a wager or prize.
  • transitive v. To keep in play, as a hooked fish, in order to land it.
  • n. Amusement; sport; frolic; gambols.
  • n. Any exercise, or series of actions, intended for amusement or diversion; a game.
  • n. The act or practice of contending for victory, amusement, or a prize, as at dice, cards, or billiards; gaming.
  • n. Action; use; employment; exercise; practice
  • n. A dramatic composition; a comedy or tragedy; a composition in which characters are represented by dialogue and action.
  • n. The representation or exhibition of a comedy or tragedy.
  • n. Performance on an instrument of music.
  • n. Motion; movement, regular or irregular; ; hence, also, room for motion; free and easy action.
  • n. Hence, liberty of acting; room for enlargement or display; scope.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To move lightly and quickly; move with a brisk, lively, and more or less irregular and capricious motion, as water in waves or in a fountain, light and shadow on agitated water, leaves in the wind, tremulous flames, etc.; flutter; flicker; dart; dance; in mech., to move freely.
  • To engage in active exercise; exercise or contend in any way, but especially with weapons; technically, to contend with swords or sticks; fence: said of persons.
  • To contend in a game of skill or chance: as, to play at chess or cards; specifically, to gamble.
  • To engage in exercise or occupation of any kind for diversion, amusement, or recreation; amuse one's self, as with games or diversion, or with any occupation which is not a task or for profit; sport; frolic; gambol.
  • To take part in a game or games; join in sport or frolic: as, to play with the children.
  • To act thoughtlessly or wantonly; trifle; toy; dally.
  • To act; behave; deal: as, to play fair or false.
  • To act on the stage; personate a character.
  • To perform on an instrument of music: as, to play on a flute or a violin.
  • To operate or act with continuous blows or strokes, or with repeated action: as, the cannon played on the enemy's works; the firemen played upon the burning building.
  • To give a humorous or fanciful turn to: as, to play upon words.
  • To play (music) more vigorously.
  • Synonyms To gambol, romp, caper, frisk.
  • To divert or amuse with or as with sports or pastimes: used reflexively.
  • To take part as a contestant in (a game or pastime engaged in at a particular time and place); also, to be in the habit of engaging in (a particular kind of game), be able to join in (it), or be skilled in (it): as, to play a rubber of whist; to play a round of golf; he does not play chess, but he can play billiards.
  • To engage in a game, contest, or competition with.
  • To put forward, move, throw, or lay on the table, etc., in carrying on a game or contest: as, play a swift ball: to play the knave of clubs.
  • To use as a plaything; trifle or fool with.
  • To manœuver; handle or play with, as a hooked fish in angling.
  • To produce music from; perform upon: as, to play the flute or the organ.
  • To perform on a musical instrument; execute: as, to play a tune.
  • To operate or cause to operate with continuous or repeated action; put into and keep in action: as, to play the hose on a burning building.
  • To give out or discharge freely: as, to play a steady stream.
  • To perform or act on the stage; represent in character with appropriate action and accessories: as, to play a comedy.
  • To take or assume the rôle of; act the part or perform the duties of; act or behave like: as, to play Hamlet; to play the tyrant; to play the hostess.
  • To do; operate; enact; perform: as, to play tricks; to play a part.
  • To use; apply; ply.
  • To make a pretense of; make believe: as, children play being devoured by lions.
  • Exhausted and brought to land or killed, as a fish that has been played.
  • n. Brisk or free motion; movement, whether regular or irregular: as, the play of water in a fountain; the play of a wheel or piston; hence, freedom or room for motion.
  • n. Liberty and room for action or display; scope; swing; ease or freedom in performance.
  • n. Action; use; employment.
  • n. Active exercise; especially, exercise in trial of skill: as, sword-play.
  • n. Any exercise intended for recreation, amusement, or pleasure; a game or sport, such as cricket, foot-ball, curling, skittles, quoits, graces, etc.
  • n. Amusement, diversion, recreation, or pastime; sport; frolic; fun; merry-making: as, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
  • n. Fun; jest; sport: opposed to earnest: as, it was done in play.
  • n. Gaming; the practice of contending for amusement, or for wager, as at dice, cards, billiards, etc.: as, to lose money at play.
  • n. A dramatic composition; a literary composition in which characters are represented by dialogue and action; a written tragedy, comedy, or other such production intended for representation on the stage.
  • n. Representation or exhibition of a comedy, tragedy, or other form of drama; dramatic performance.
  • n. Style or manner of playing; style of performing or executing a play or game; execution; performance; skill: as, he made clever play with the foils.
  • n. Manner of acting or dealing, or of treating another: as, fair play; foul play.
  • n. A country wake.
  • n. Pastime.
  • A variant of plaw.
  • To follow another successfully, with apparent sympathy, in his vein or mood from the theatrical use.
  • In base-ball, foot-ball, and similar games, to place (a player) in a certain position.
  • To accompany in action with music.
  • n. A method or manner of performing on a musical instrument, especially as regards the action of the hands. See close play.
  • n. The act or an act of playing (in a game); a separate act of playing.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. behave in a certain way
  • v. stake on the outcome of an issue
  • n. a theatrical performance of a drama
  • v. play a role or part
  • v. bet or wager (money)
  • v. engage in recreational activities rather than work; occupy oneself in a diversion
  • v. perform on a certain location
  • v. behave carelessly or indifferently
  • v. engage in an activity as if it were a game rather than take it seriously
  • v. be at play; be engaged in playful activity; amuse oneself in a way characteristic of children
  • v. consider not very seriously
  • v. make bets
  • n. gay or light-hearted recreational activity for diversion or amusement
  • n. the act of playing for stakes in the hope of winning (including the payment of a price for a chance to win a prize)
  • v. be received or accepted or interpreted in a specific way
  • n. the act using a sword (or other weapon) vigorously and skillfully
  • v. contend against an opponent in a sport, game, or battle
  • n. a dramatic work intended for performance by actors on a stage
  • v. perform on a stage or theater
  • v. perform music on (a musical instrument)
  • v. exhaust by allowing to pull on the line
  • n. an attempt to get something

Etymologies

Middle English playen, from Old English plegian.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English playen, pleyen, pleȝen, plæien, also Middle English plaȝen, plawen (> English plaw), from Old English pleġan, pleoġan, plæġan, and Old English pleġian, pleaġian, plagian ("to play, move about sportively, frolic, dance; move rapidly; divert or amuse oneself, occupy or busy oneself; play a game, sport with, exercise, exercise one’s self in any way for the sake of amusement; play with; play with a person, toy; strive after; play on an instrument; contend, fight; clap the hands, applaud; make sport of, mock; cohabit (with)"), from Proto-Germanic *pleganan, *plehanan (“to care about, be concerned with”) and Proto-Germanic *plegōnan (“to engage, move”); both perhaps from Proto-Indo-European *blek- (“to move, move about”), from Proto-Indo-European *bal- (compare Ancient Greek blyein, blýzein 'to gush out, spring', Sanskrit balbaliti 'it whirls, twirls'). Cognate with Scots play ("to act or move briskly, cause to move, stir"), Saterland Frisian plegia ("to look after, care for, maintain"), West Frisian pleegje, pliigje ("to commit, perform, bedrive"), Middle Dutch pleyen ("to dance, leap for joy, rejoice, be glad"; > Modern Dutch pleien ("to play a particular children's game")), Dutch plegen ("to commit, bedrive, practice"), German pflegen ("to care for, be concerned with, attend to, tend"), Danish pleie ("to tend to, nurse"), Swedish pläga ("to be wont to, be accustomed to"). Related also to Old English plēon ("to risk, endanger"). More at plight, pledge. (Wiktionary)
From Middle English pleye, from Old English plæġ, pleġa, plæġa ("play, quick motion, movement, exercise; (athletic) sport, game; festivity, drama; battle; gear for games, an implement for a game; clapping with the hands, applause"), deverbative of pleġian ("to play"); see above. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • A retreat from complexity isn't a sign of stupidity, sheeple-hood or lack of an e-peen: honestly, it's perhaps the core pleasure of play, a notion lost to some professionals and scholars who have managed to leach the *play* out of what they do.

    Farmville = ?

  • We're getting together tonight to chat about what's next, and to play: with both last night and last week being less than productive musically, we want to *play*.

    another show (quiet)

  • It is by no means my intention to suggest that great writing is not desirable in the drama; but the point must be emphasised that it is not a necessary element in the immediate merit of a play _as a play_.

    The Theory of the Theatre

  • _ An 'when I wants ter play on' er _I'll play_, an 'when you wants' er, why, you teck

    Solomon Crow's Christmas Pockets and Other Tales

  • He made every profession of love and regard to me; and I verily believed him sincere; because I knew he had been obliged by a part of my family; but when I found a coach, a country-house, a good table, a wife, and servants, were all supported by the _chance_ of a gaming-table, I withdrew myself from all connections with him; for, I fear, he who lives to play, may _play_ to _live_.

    A Year's Journey through France and Part of Spain, 1777 Volume 1 (of 2)

  • BASSMOD_MusicPlay () play: = errorlevel if debug = 1 traytip,, debug: \% init\% | \% load\% | \% play\% sleep 5000; testing purposes

    AutoHotkey Community

  • *lites go down, flashy lites play on teh catwalk and tekno music begins to play*

    NOM - Lolcats 'n' Funny Pictures of Cats - I Can Has Cheezburger?

  • All decent human work partakes (let us thank the great reasonablenesses of real things!) of the quality of play: if it did not it would be bad or ever on the verge of badness; and if ever human activity attains to fullest fruitfulness, it will be (every experience of our own best work shows it) when the distinction of _work_ and of _play_ will cease to have a meaning, play remaining only as the preparatory work of the child, as the strength-repairing, balance-adjusting work of the adult.

    Laurus Nobilis Chapters on Art and Life

  • fwah! can only say duns play play~! later anyhow touch den chi-cha-booms~!

    www.hardwarezone.com.sg

  • If it could play the piano, I am sure it would really _play_. "

    Swann's Way

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