v. played, play·ing, plays
1. To occupy oneself in amusement, sport, or other recreation: children playing with toys.
a. To take part in a game: No minors are eligible to play.
b. To participate in betting; gamble.
3. To act in jest or sport: They're not arguing in earnest, they're just playing.
4. To deal or behave carelessly or indifferently; toy. See Synonyms at flirt.
5. To behave or converse sportively or playfully.
6. To act or conduct oneself in a specified way: play fair; an investor who plays cautiously.
7. To act, especially in a dramatic production.
a. To perform on an instrument: play on an accordion.
b. To emit sound or be sounded in performance: The band is playing.
9. To be performed, as in a theater or on television: A good movie is playing tonight.
10. To be received or accepted: a speech that played poorly with the voters.
11. To move or seem to move quickly, lightly, or irregularly: The breeze played on the water.
12. To function or discharge uninterruptedly: The fountains played in the courtyard.
13. To move or operate freely within a bounded space, as machine parts do.
a. To perform or act (a role or part) in a dramatic performance.
b. To assume the role of; act as: played the peacemaker at the meeting.
2. To perform (a theatrical work) on or as if on the stage.
3. To present a theatrical performance in (a given place): The company played Detroit last week.
4. To pretend to be; mimic the activities of: played cowboy; played the star.
a. To engage in (a game or sport): play hockey; play chess.
b. To compete against in a game or sport.
c. To occupy or work at (a position) in a game: Lou Gehrig played first base.
d. To employ (a player) in a game or position: Let's play her at first base.
e. To use or move (a card or piece) in a game: play the ace of clubs
f. To hit (a ball, shot, or stroke), as in tennis: played a strong backhand.
g. To attempt to keep or gain possession or control of: No foul was called because he was playing the ball.
a. To bet; wager: played ten dollars on the horse.
b. To make bets on: play the races.
7. To perform or put into effect, especially as a jest or deception: play a joke on a friend.
8. To handle; manage: played the matter quietly.
9. To use or manipulate, especially for one's own interests: played his opponents against each other.
a. To perform on (an instrument): play the guitar.
b. To perform (a piece) on instruments or an instrument.
11. To cause (a compact disk or audiocassette, for example) to emit recorded sounds.
12. To discharge or direct in or as if in a continuous stream: play a hose on a fire.
13. To cause to move rapidly, lightly, or irregularly: play lights over the dance floor.
14. To exhaust (a hooked fish) by allowing it to pull on the line.
a. A literary work written for performance on the stage; a drama.
b. The performance of such a work.
2. Activity engaged in for enjoyment or recreation.
3. Fun or jesting: It was all done in play.
a. The act or manner of engaging in a game or sport: After a time-out, play resumed. The golf tournament featured expert play.
b. The act or manner of using a card, piece, or ball in a game or sport: my partner's play of the last trump; his clumsy play of the rebound.
c. A move or an action in a game: It's your play. The runner was thrown out in a close play.
5. Participation in betting; gambling.
6. Manner of dealing with others; conduct: fair play.
7. An attempt to obtain something; a bid: a play for sympathy.
a. Action, motion, or use: the play of the imagination.
b. Freedom or occasion for action; scope: give full play to an artist's talents. See Synonyms at room.
9. Movement or space for movement, as of mechanical parts.
10. Quick, often irregular movement or action, especially of light or color: the play of color on iridescent feathers.
play along Informal
To cooperate or pretend to cooperate: decided to play along with the robbers for a while.
1. To participate in; engage in.
2. To do or take part in halfheartedly.
To replay (a recently recorded tape, for example).
To minimize the importance of; make little of: played down the defect to protect the troops' morale.
a. To establish the winner of (a tie) by playing in an additional game or series of games.
b. To participate in a playoff.
2. To set (one individual or party) in opposition to another so as to advance one's own interests: a parent who played off one child against another.