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

  • intransitive v. To play a role in a dramatic performance.
  • intransitive v. To play a pretended role; make believe.
  • intransitive v. To behave in an overdramatic or artificial manner.


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • They're so desperate to imagine themselves as actors in an ongoing drama that rivals the most momentous struggles in human history that they simply play-act the part, pumping up their own situation into something comically out of proportion with historical reality.

    The right's delusions of world-historical grandeur

  • I had been told by this good friend his story of this crazy ex-girlfriend who always liked to play-act things, 'Okay lets go into that bar and you pretend you don't know me and you try to pick me up,' and they were like living together.

    Turnstyle: [AFI FEST] Director Alison Bagnall Talks About Her Film The Dish & The Spoon

  • "She can either really learn to play the flute or she can play-act learning to play the flute."

    Meg Campbell: Laughter, Joy and Friendship in School?

  • For hard it was on Michael, a nerve and mental strain of the severest for him so to control himself as to play-act anger and threat of hurt to his beloved


  • And he nearly did drown her, so well did he play-act his own drowning.


  • The opium still worked in his brain, so that he could play-act cruelly, while at the same time he appraised and appreciated her stress of control and will that showed in her drawn face, and the terror of death in her eyes, with beyond it and behind it, in her eyes and through her eyes, the something more of the spirit of courage, and higher thought, and resolution.


  • There seems to be a mini-movement underway of disgruntled taxpayers and law enforcement officials intent on sweeping out the bums who play-act at being our political leaders while lining their own pockets.

    Diane Dimond: Citizen Revolt - Sweep Out the Bums!

  • I practice it a few times—softly, like the little girl on the train with her play-act family.

    Crossing the Tracks

  • What an imbecile in diapers I was to believe I had a real role in my play-act family.

    Crossing the Tracks

  • “So when Lucien teased him, Josh was, he …” I've run out of post-it note words, so I put my hands on my hips and play-act someone being mock angry.

    My son, the violent homosexual


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