play


play
1 /pleI/ verb
1 CHILDREN (I, T) when children play, they do things that they enjoy, often together or with toys: The children ran off to play on the beach. | play sth: The boys were playing soldiers. | I don't want to play that game!
(+ with): play with your new toys | He loves playing with his grandchildren.
2 SPORTS/GAMES (I, T) to take part in a game or sport: play sth: Do you play a lot of golf? | I enjoy playing chess.
(+ against): They're a terrible team to play against. (+ for): He has played for England fifteen times now. | play sb: She's playing Helen Evans in the semi-final. (=playing against her)
3 play a ball to hit a ball in a game or sport: She played the ball low, just over the net.
4 play games to hide your real feelings or wishes in order to achieve something in a clever or secret way
5 play the game to behave in a fair and honest way
6 MUSIC (I, T)
a) to perform a piece of music on a musical instrument: I've always wanted to learn to play the piano. | She tried to play a Bach Prelude. | Please play a tune on your concertina for me.
b) to produce music: The bedside radio played softly. | I could hear a violin playing a waltz in the background. | play a record/tape/CD (=produce music from it): He just sits in his bedroom all day playing records.
7 THEATRE/ACTING
a) (T) to perform the actions and say the words of a particular character in a theatre performance: He had always wanted to play Hamlet. | play a role/part: The role of Mrs Goodfire was played by Jane Easton.
b) (I) if a play is playing at a particular theatre, it is being performed there: `Macbeth' is now playing at the Theatre Royal in York.
c) (T) if actors play a theatre, they perform there in a play
8 play a part/role in sth to have an effect or an influence on something: The press plays an important role in the life of a democracy.
9 PRETEND (linking verb) to behave as if you are a particular kind of person or have a particular feeling or quality, even though it is not true: play dumb/dead etc: The snake fools predators by playing dead. | play the idiot/the teacher etc: If he is captured, he must play the idiot and reveal nothing. | play policeman/soldier etc: These are ordinary people who think they'll play policeman for a while. | play the fool (=behave in a silly way)
10 play hard to get to pretend that you are not sexually interested in someone so that they will become more interested in you
11 BEHAVE (transitive always + adv/prep) to behave in a particular way in a situation in order to achieve the result or effect that you want: We always discuss how the event will be played. | play it carefully/cool etc: I think he might offer me the job, but I must play it carefully. | play (it) safe (=avoid taking any risks) | play it by ear (=decide what to do according to the way a situation develops): Let's just play it by ear.
12 play a joke/trick on sb to do something to someone as a joke or trick: I was trying to play a joke on you.
13 CARDS (T) to show a card in a game of cards by putting it down on the table: She couldn't decide which card to play. | He played his ace and won the game.
14 play your cards right to behave in a clever or skilful way in a situation so that you gain as much as possible from it: If I play my cards right, I should do very well out of the deal.
15 play second fiddle (to sb) to be in a lower position or rank than someone else
16 play for time to try to delay something so that you have more time to prepare for it or prevent it from happening: He was playing for time until the others arrived.
17 SMILE (intransitive always + adv/prep) if a smile plays over someone's lips, they smile quickly and only a little
18 LIGHT (intransitive always + adv/prep) if light plays on something, it shines on it and moves about on it: She watched the sunlight playing on the water.
19 play the system to use the rules of a system in a clever way, to gain advantage for yourself: These accountants know how to play the tax system.
20 play the market to risk money on the stock market as a way of trying to earn more money
21 play hooky AmE
/play truant BrE to stay away from school without permission
22 play with fire to do something that could have a very dangerous or harmful result
23 play a hose/light on sth to direct a hose or light towards something so that water or light goes onto it
24 not play ball to refuse to do something that someone else wants you to do: She wanted Dean to lend her the money, but he wouldn't play ball.
25 play the field to have sexual relationships with a lot of different people
26 play sb for a sucker AmE to show by the way that you behave towards someone that you think they are stupid: It seems to me they are playing me for a sucker in this hotel.
27 play fast and loose with sb old-fashioned to treat someone in a selfishly careless way
play about/around with sb/sth phrasal verb (T)
1 to have a sexual relationship with someone that is not serious or not intended to last very long: Her husband accused her of playing around with other men.
2 to keep moving something around in your hands: Stop playing around with that knife!
play along phrasal verb
1 (intransitive + with) to pretend that you agree with someone's ideas because you want to gain an advantage for yourself or to avoid a quarrel
2 (transitive) play sb along to tell someone something that is not true because you need their help in some way
play at sth phrasal verb (T)
1 if you play at doing something, you do not do it properly or seriously: He just plays at being an artist.
2 if children play at doctors, soldiers etc, they pretend to be doctors or soldiers
3 What is he/she etc playing at? used when you do not understand what someone is doing or what they are trying to achieve: What do you think you're playing at? | I don't know what on earth he's playing at.
play sth back phrasal verb (T) to play something that has been recorded on a machine so that you can listen to it or watch it: I recorded my brother singing a song then played it back to him. play sth down phrasal verb (T) to try to make something seem less important than it really is: The government has tried to play down its defeat in the local elections. play sb off against sb phrasal verb (T) if you play one person off against another, you encourage them to argue or quarrel with each other so that you can gain something play on sth phrasal verb (T) to use a feeling or an idea in order to gain an advantage for yourself: They are playing on the fact that we don't like to appear ignorant. play sth out phrasal verb (T) if you play out an event, you take part in it in a way that seems to have been planned or thought about before: The weekend gives you a chance to play out your fantasies. | She watched the farce that was being played out before her. play up phrasal verb
1 (transitive play something up) if you play something up, you make it seem more important than it really is: She knew the newspapers would try to play it up.
2 (intransitive, transitive play someone up) if children play up, they behave badly: The children have really been playing up this afternoon. | I hope the kids don't play you up.
3 (intransitive, transitive play someone up) to hurt you or cause problems for you: My leg's been playing me up recently. | The car's playing up again.
play up to sb phrasal verb (T) to behave in a very polite or kind way to someone because you want something from them: politicians playing up to popular opinion play with sb/sth phrasal verb
1 (T) to keep touching something or moving it about: Stop playing with the light switch!
2 play with the idea of doing sth to consider the possibility of doing something: I'm playing with the idea of writing a novel.
3 play with yourself to touch your own sex organs for pleasure
4 play with words to use words in a clever or amusing way
5 have time/money to play with to have extra time or money that is available to be used: The budget is very tight; there isn't much money to play with.
2 noun
1 THEATRE (C) a piece of writing performed in a theatre or on television or radio, consisting of speeches and conversations between several characters: one of Shakespeare's best-known plays | When he retired, he wrote plays. | put on a play (=perform a play): The school will be putting on a play in the summer term.
2 AMUSEMENT (U) things that people, especially children, do for amusement rather than as work: Soon Henry tired of his play, and wandered off along the beach. | at play (=playing): the happy laughter of children at play | in play (=done only for amusement, not seriously): She had hidden his books, in play.
3 ACTION IN A GAME OR SPORT (U) the actions that form part of a game or a sport: The changes in rules were agreed upon before the next day's play began. | The match began on time, but rain stopped play after only an hour. | We have seen some very good play this afternoon.
4 in play/out of play if a ball is in play or out of play, it is inside or outside the area allowed by the rules of the game: He kicked the ball out of play.
5 bring sth into play to use something or make it have an effect: A whole complex system of muscles is brought into play for each movement of the body.
6 come into play to be used or have an effect: Several factors came into play to make this possible.
7 the play of light the pattern made by light as it moves gently over a surface: the play of light on the water
8 play on words a use of a word that is interesting or amusing because it can be understood as having two very different meanings
9 LOOSENESS (U) if there is some play in something, it is loose and can be moved: There's too much play in that rope.
10 make a play for sth to make an attempt to gain something: He made a play for the leadership last year.

Longman dictionary of contemporary English. 2004.

Synonyms:

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

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  • 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

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