(1)   The act using a sword (or other weapon) vigorously and skillfully
(2)   The act of playing for stakes in the hope of winning (including the payment of a price for a chance to win a prize)
"His gambling cost him a fortune"
"There was heavy play at the blackjack table"
(3)   Activity by children that is guided more by imagination than by fixed rules
"Freud believed in the utility of play to a small child"
(4)   (game) the activity of doing something in an agreed succession
"It is my turn"
"It is still my play"
(5)   Gay or light-hearted recreational activity for diversion or amusement
"It was all done in play"
"Their frolic in the surf threatened to become ugly"
(6)   A deliberate coordinated movement requiring dexterity and skill
"He made a great maneuver"
"The runner was out on a play by the shortstop"
(7)   A preset plan of action in team sports
"The coach drew up the plays for her team"
(8)   An attempt to get something
"They made a futile play for power"
"He made a bid to gain attention"
(9)   Utilization or exercise
"The play of the imagination"
(10)   Movement or space for movement
"There was too much play in the steering wheel"
(11)   Verbal wit or mockery (often at another's expense but not to be taken seriously)
"He became a figure of fun"
"He said it in sport"
(12)   A dramatic work intended for performance by actors on a stage
"He wrote several plays but only one was produced on Broadway"
(13)   A theatrical performance of a drama
"The play lasted two hours"
(14)   A weak and tremulous light
"The shimmer of colors on iridescent feathers"
"The play of light on the water"
(15)   The removal of constraints
"He gave free rein to his impulses"
"They gave full play to the artist's talent"
(16)   A state in which action is feasible
"The ball was still in play"
"Insiders said the company's stock was in play"
(17)   (in games or plays or other performances) the time during which play proceeds
"Rain stopped play in the 4th inning"


(18)   Engage in an activity as if it were a game rather than take it seriously
"They played games on their opponents"
"Play the stock market"
"Play with her feelings"
"Toy with an idea"
(19)   Pretend to have certain qualities or state of mind
"He acted the idiot"
"She plays deaf when the news are bad"
(20)   Exhaust by allowing to pull on the line
"Play a hooked fish"
(21)   Consider not very seriously
"He is trifling with her"
"She plays with the thought of moving to Tasmania"
(22)   Participate in games or sport
"We played hockey all afternoon"
"Play cards"
"Pele played for the Brazilian teams in many important matches"
(23)   Contend against an opponent in a sport, game, or battle
"Princeton plays Yale this weekend"
"Charlie likes to play Mary"
(24)   Shoot or hit in a particular manner
"She played a good backhand last night"
(25)   Bet or wager (money)
"He played $20 on the new horse"
"She plays the races"


  1. Activity for amusement only, especially among the young.
  2. The conduct, or course of a game.
  3. An individual's performance in a sport or game.
  4. (turn-based games) An action carried out when it is one's turn to play.
  5. A literary composition, intended to be represented by actors impersonating the characters and speaking the dialogue.
  6. A theatrical performance featuring actors.
  7. A major move by a business.
  8. A geological formation that contains an accumulation or prospect of hydrocarbons or other resources.
  9. The extent to which a part of a mechanism can move freely.
    No wonder the fanbelt is slipping: there’s too much play in it.
    Too much play in a steering wheel may be dangerous.


  1. : To act in a manner such that one has fun; to engage in activities expressly for the purpose of recreation.
    • 2001, Annabelle Sabloff, Reordering the Natural World, Univ. of Toronto Press, p. 83,
      A youngster...listed some of the things his pet did not do: ...go on vacation, play in the same way that he did with his friends, and so on.
    • 2003, Anne-Nelly Perret-Clermont et al. (eds.), Joining Society: Social Interaction and Learning in Adolescence and Youth, Cambridge Univ. Press, p. 52,
      We had to play for an hour, so that meant that we didn't have time to play and joke around.
  2. To play a sport.
    He plays on three teams.
    Who's playing now?
  3. To produce music using a musical instrument.
    I've practiced the piano off and on, and I still can't play very well.
  4. To deal with a situation in a diplomatic manner.
  5. To act in a performance as the indicated role.
    He plays the King, and she's the Queen.
  6. To participate in the game indicated.
    play football, play sports, play games
  7. To produce music on the indicated musical instrument.
    I'll play the piano and you sing.
    Can you play an instrument?
  8. To produce music, the indicated song or style, with a musical instrument.
    We especially like to play jazz together.
    Play a song for me.
    Do you know how to play Für Elise?
    My son thinks he can play music.
  9. To use a device to watch or listen to the indicated recording.
    You can play the DVD now.
  10. Contrary to fact, to give an appearance of being.
    • 1985, Sharon S Brehm, Intimate Relationships
      Playing hard to get is not the same as slamming the door in someone's face.
    • 1996, Michael P Mal one, James J Hill: Empire Builder of the Northwest
      Now, surveying his final link, he had the nice advantage of being able to play coy with established port cities that desperately wanted his proven railroad.
    • 2003, John U. Ogbu, Black American Students in an Affluent Suburb: A Study of Academic Disengagement, page 194
      Instead, they played dumb, remained silent, and did their classwork.
  11. In a game or game-like setting, to maintain a posture of being.
    They played long and hard.
    Play nice, children.