play
I. noun Etymology: Middle English, from Old English plega; akin to Old English plegan to play, Middle Dutch pleyen Date: before 12th century 1. a. swordplay b. archaic game, sport c. the conduct, course, or action of a game d. a particular act or maneuver in a game: as (1) the action during an attempt to advance the ball in football (2) the action in which a player is put out in baseball e. the action in which cards are played after bidding in a card game f. the moving of a piece in a board game (as chess) g. one's turn in a game <
it's your play
>
2. a. obsolete sexual intercourse b. amorous flirtation ; dalliance 3. a. recreational activity; especially the spontaneous activity of children b. absence of serious or harmful intent ; jest <
said it in play
>
c. the act or an instance of playing on words or speech sounds d. gaming, gambling 4. a. (1) an act, way, or manner of proceeding ; maneuver <
that was a play to get your fingerprints — Erle Stanley Gardner
>
(2) deal, venture b. (1) the state of being active, operative, or relevant <
other motives surely come into play — M. R. Cohen
>
<
several issues are at play
>
(2) brisk, fitful, or light movement <
the gem presented a dazzling play of colors
>
(3) free or unimpeded motion (as of a part of a machine); also the length or measure of such motion (4) scope or opportunity for action (5) a function of an electronic device that causes a recording to play 5. emphasis or publicity especially in the news media <
wished the country received a better play in the American press — Hugh MacLennan
>
6. a move or series of moves calculated to arouse friendly feelings — usually used with make <
made a big play for the girl — Will Herman
>
7. a. the stage representation of an action or story b. a dramatic composition ; drama Synonyms: see fun II. intransitive verb Date: before 12th century 1. a. to engage in sport or recreation ; frolic b. to have sexual relations; especially to have promiscuous or illicit sexual relations — usually used in the phrase play around c. (1) to move aimlessly about ; trifle (2) to toy or fiddle around with something <
played with her food
>
(3) to deal or behave frivolously or mockingly ; jest (4) to deal in a light, speculative, or sportive manner (5) to make use of double meaning or of the similarity of sound of two words for stylistic or humorous effect 2. a. to take advantage <
playing on fears
>
b. (1) flutter, frisk (2) to move or operate in a lively, irregular, or intermittent manner c. to move or function freely within prescribed limits d. to produce a stream <
hoses playing on a fire
>
3. a. (1) to perform music <
play on a violin
>
(2) to sound in performance <
the organ is playing
>
(3) to emit sounds <
the radio is playing
>
(4) to reproduce recorded sounds <
a record is playing
>
b. (1) to act in a dramatic production (2) show, run <
what's playing at the theater
>
c. to be suitable for dramatic performance d. to act with special consideration so as to gain favor, approval, or sympathy <
might play to popular prejudices to serve his political ends — V. L. Parrington
>
— often used in the phrase play up to e. to produce a specified impression in performance <
a movie that plays like a sitcom
>
4. a. to engage or take part in a game b. to perform in a position in a specified manner <
the outfielders were playing deep
>
c. to perform an action during one's turn in a game d. gamble e. (1) to behave or conduct oneself in a specified way <
play safe
>
(2) to feign a specified state or quality <
play dead
>
(3) to take part in or assent to some activity ; cooperate <
play along with his scheme
>
(4) to act so as to prove advantageous to another — usually used in the phrase play into the hands of 5. to gain approval ; go over <
her idea did not play well
>
transitive verb 1. a. (1) to engage in or occupy oneself with <
play baseball
>
(2) to engage in (an activity) as a game (3) to deal with, handle, or manage (4) exploit, manipulate b. to pretend to engage in the activities of <
play war
>
<
children playing house
>
c. (1) to amount to by one's efforts <
played an important role in their success
>
(2) to perform or execute for amusement or to deceive or mock <
play a trick
>
(3) wreak <
play havoc
>
(4) to use or introduce as a political or rhetorical strategy <
play the national security card
>
2. a. (1) to put on a performance of (a play) (2) to act in the character or part of (3) to act or perform in <
played leading theaters
>
b. to perform or act the part of <
play the fool
>
3. a. (1) to contend against in or as if in a game (2) to use as a contestant in a game <
the coach did not play him
>
(3) to perform the duties associated with (a certain position) <
played quarterback
>
(4) to guard or move into position to defend against (an opponent) in a specified manner b. (1) to wager in a game ; stake (2) to make wagers on <
play the races
>
(3) to speculate on or in <
play the stock market
>
(4) to operate on the basis of <
play a hunch
>
c. to put into action in a game; especially to remove (a playing card) from one's hand and place usually faceup on a table in one's turn either as part of a scoring combination or as one's contribution to a trick d. to catch or pick up (a batted ball) ; field <
played the ball bare-handed
>
e. to direct the course of (as a ball) ; hit <
played a wedge shot to the green
>
; also to cause (a ball or puck) to rebound <
played the ball off the backboard
>
4. a. to perform (music) on an instrument <
play a waltz
>
b. to perform music on <
play the violin
>
c. to perform music of (a certain composer) d. (1) to cause (as a radio or phonograph) to emit sounds (2) to cause the recorded sound or image of (as a record or a magnetic tape) to be reproduced 5. a. wield, ply b. to discharge, fire, or set off with continuous effect <
played the hose on the burning building
>
c. to cause to move or operate lightly and irregularly or intermittently d. to keep (a hooked fish) in action • playability nounplayable adjective

New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • 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

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