play1 [ pleı ] verb ***
▸ 1 take part in sport/game
▸ 2 make music/sound
▸ 3 have part in play, etc.
▸ 4 when children have fun
▸ 5 when light moves
1. ) intransitive or transitive to take part in a sport or game:
The girls are out playing tennis.
He played well, though his team lost.
play for: He played for the Yankees before he was traded to Milwaukee.
Do you want to play cards?
a ) intransitive or transitive to compete against someone in a sport or game:
She plays the winner of tomorrow's match.
Chicago plays Los Angeles tonight at the stadium.
play against: The Bears are playing against the Niners tonight.
b ) transitive to use a particular person in your team:
They decided not to play Beckham because he was injured.
c ) intransitive or transitive to have a particular position in a sports team:
She plays in defense.
d ) transitive to hit or kick a ball:
The ball was going out so he was right not to play it.
2. ) intransitive or transitive to perform music, or to use an instrument to make music:
He played several organ pieces by Bach.
Gloria plays the violin in the London Philharmonic.
The orchestra played beautifully tonight.
a ) to make something such as a radio, CD, etc. start to produce sounds, or to be made to do this:
They played the CD at full volume.
A tape was played in court in which he confessed to the crime.
I could hear a radio playing in the apartment above.
3. ) transitive to have a particular part in a play or movie:
She had played Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire.
The role of the mother was played by one of Australia's finest actresses.
a ) intransitive if a play or movie is playing somewhere, it is being performed or shown there:
What's playing at the local movie theater?
b ) intransitive to act in a particular play:
I was asked to play in a new version of Shakespeare's Macbeth.
4. ) intransitive or transitive if children play or play something, they do things they enjoy, for example using toys and taking part in games:
The children were playing in the backyard.
Molly and Lilly were playing happily together.
play by yourself (=when you are alone): Tom's very good at playing by himself.
play with: She watched some kids playing with a ball in the street.
a ) transitive to pretend to be someone else while playing:
My little girl likes to play mommy with her doll.
5. ) intransitive MAINLY LITERARY if something such as light plays somewhere, it moves quickly over a surface, appearing in different places for a very short time:
Moonlight played on the surface of the lake.
(if you) play your cards right INFORMAL
used for saying that if someone behaves in the right way, they might be successful:
If you play your cards right, he might ask you back to his house.
play ball (with someone) INFORMAL
to do something, often something dishonest, that someone wants you to do:
Because he refused to play ball with these criminals, he was shot and seriously wounded.
play (something) by ear
to perform a piece of music by remembering what it sounds like, without looking at the notes
play fast and loose with OLD-FASHIONED
to treat someone or something in a careless way:
He had played fast and loose with her feelings.
play the field INFORMAL
to have several sexual relationships before you choose a permanent partner
play for time
to deliberately delay doing something or do it more slowly than usual so that you have more time to decide what to do
play games
to behave in a silly way by not saying what you really think or by not being serious enough:
Stop playing games and tell him what you really feel.
play God
if someone plays God, they use their power or authority to make important decisions that you think a person should not make, especially decisions about whether people live or die
play hard to get INFORMAL
to pretend not to be interested in someone who you think is sexually attractive in order to make them more interested in you
play the idiot/fool/innocent
to pretend that you do not understand something
play it by ear
to decide what to do as a situation develops rather than planning what you will do before you start
play it cool INFORMAL
to behave calmly and not show that you are worried about something
play (it) safe
to avoid taking any risks:
It's probably OK to eat them raw, but it's best to play it safe by cooking them.
play a joke/trick on someone
to do something to someone that you think is funny because it makes them look silly or feel embarrassed
play a part/role in something
to be involved in something, especially in a way that is important:
Her father had never played a big part in her life.
She played a key role in campaigning for equal opportunities in the workplace.
play (right/straight) into someone's hands
to do something that helps someone you are competing against:
You'll be playing right into their hands if you involve the police.
play the (stock) market
to invest in STOCKS or BONDS because you want to make money
playing with fire
doing something dangerous or risky that could cause lots of problems for you
,play a`long phrasal verb intransitive
to pretend to agree with someone or something, especially in order to get what you want or avoid an argument: GO ALONG:
play along with: Just play along with what he wants. It's easier.
,play a`round phrasal verb intransitive
1. ) INFORMAL If someone who is married or has a partner plays around they have sexual relationships with other people:
play around with: He had played around with other women.
2. ) to think about all the different possible ways of doing something before you make a decision:
play around with: They played around with lots of different schemes before opting for this one.
`play at phrasal verb transitive play at something
1. ) to do something without being very serious about it:
I think she's just playing at running a business.
2. ) if children play at something, they pretend to be someone else or to be involved in a particular type of situation:
A child playing at shopping, for example, will display early math skills.
,play `back phrasal verb transitive
to play a message or video that has been recorded in order to listen to or watch it:
Play back the phone message.
,play `down phrasal verb transitive
to try to make a problem or difficult situation seem less important than it is:
At first the administration played down the threat to public health.
,play `off a,gainst phrasal verb transitive
play someone off against someone if you play two people off against each other, you try to cause an argument between them because you think that this will give you more power or control in a situation
`play ,on phrasal verb transitive
play on something to use a situation or emotions such as fear or worry in order to get what you want:
She plays on the fact that people feel sorry for her.
,play `out phrasal verb
1. ) intransitive or transitive to develop or end in a particular way:
They disagreed violently, and no one knew how the situation would play out.
2. ) transitive always passive if an event or situation is played out in a particular way, it happens in that way:
His career as a writer was played out against a background of alcoholism.
3. ) transitive if you play out a situation, you pretend that it is really happening:
Children often play out quite violent scenes.
,play `up phrasal verb
1. ) transitive to try to persuade people to believe that something is more important than it is:
The newspapers have really played up the low voter turnout.
2. ) intransitive or transitive play someone up to cause difficulties or pain for someone:
The printer's playing up again.
My back's been playing me up all day.
,play `up to phrasal verb transitive
play up to someone to behave in a very friendly or polite way to someone because you want them to like you or do something for you:
He took great pains to play up to Joan's mother.
`play with phrasal verb transitive play with something
1. ) to keep touching something, especially because you are bored:
Stop playing with your hair!
2. ) if you play with words or ideas, you use them in a clever and funny way
play with yourself INFORMAL
play 2 [ pleı ] noun ***
1. ) uncount activities that are done because they are enjoyable and fun, especially by children:
The second-graders have a play period right after lunch.
at play: She watched the children at play in the park.
2. ) count a piece of writing intended to be performed by actors in a theater or on television or the radio:
a Broadway play
put on/perform a play: The university's drama students plan to put on an Arthur Miller play.
She writes radio and television plays.
3. ) uncount the action in a sport or game:
The golf match was suspended during the storm, but play resumed later on.
The wet and muddy conditions determined the style of play.
a ) count or uncount a particular action in a game, or the quality of the action:
Lopez made a fine play to throw the runner out at the plate.
4. ) uncount if there is play in something such as a rope, it is not stretched tight and you can move it
bring something into play
to make something start to have an effect:
If they continue to deliver late, we'll have to bring the penalty clause into play.
come into play
to start to happen or have an effect:
When the new policy comes into play, fewer people will have control.
make a play for someone
to try to begin a romantic or sexual relationship with someone by making them notice you
out of play
if a ball is out of play, it is outside the area where a game can be played
a play on words
a clever or funny use of a word that has two different meanings
in play
if a ball is in play, it is within the area where a game can be played

Usage of the words and phrases in modern English. 2013.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • play — [plā] vi. [ME plein < OE plegan, to play, be active] 1. to move lightly, rapidly, or erratically; flutter [sunlight playing on the waves] 2. to amuse oneself, as by taking part in a game or sport; engage in recreation 3. to take active part in …   English World dictionary

  • Play — may refer to: * Play (activity), enjoyment by humans * Play (animal behaviour)‎ * Play (theatre), structured literary form or theatreIn music* Play 99.6 (radio), Jordan s No.1 Hit Music Radio Station * Play (Mexican band) (or Grupo Play ),… …   Wikipedia

  • play — ► VERB 1) engage in games or other activities for enjoyment rather than for a serious or practical purpose. 2) take part in (a sport or contest). 3) compete against. 4) take a specified position in a sports team. 5) represent (a character) in a… …   English terms dictionary

  • Play — Play, n. 1. Amusement; sport; frolic; gambols. [1913 Webster] 2. Any exercise, or series of actions, intended for amusement or diversion; a game. [1913 Webster] John naturally loved rough play. Arbuthnot. [1913 Webster] 3. The act or practice of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Play — Play, v. i. [imp. & p. p. {Played}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Playing}.] [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.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Play — Play, v. t. 1. To put in action or motion; as, to play cannon upon a fortification; to play a trump. [1913 Webster] First Peace and Silence all disputes control, Then Order plays the soul. Herbert. [1913 Webster] 2. To perform music upon; as, to… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • play³ — Beschreibung Multiplattform Spielemagazin Verlag …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • PLAY.FM — is an web radio and online audio database for DJ and club culture. DJ sets, radio shows and live recordings are collected and can be listend to on demand. The PLAY.FM studio and the office are located in the Museumsquartier in the 7th district of …   Wikipedia

  • Play 3 — Play³ Beschreibung Multiplattform Spielemagazin Verlag Computec Media AG …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Play³ — Beschreibung Multiplattform Spielemagazin Verlag Computec Media AG …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Play On — Студийный альбом Кэрри Андервуд Д …   Википедия

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