1) a dramatic composition; drama
2) a dramatic performance, as on the stage
3) activity, often spontaneous, engaged in for recreation, as by children
4) fun or jest, as opposed to earnest:
I said it merely in play[/ex]
5) a pun
6) the action or conduct of a game:
the fourth inning of play[/ex]
7) an act or instance of playing:
a play that cost us the match[/ex]
8) manner or style of playing
9) one's turn to play
10) a playing for stakes; gambling
11) cvb an often crafty maneuver:
a takeover play[/ex]
12) ste an enterprise; venture
13) action of a specified kind:
foul play[/ex]
14) action, activity, or operation:
the play of fancy[/ex]
15) brisk, light, or changing movement or action:
the play of a fountain[/ex]
16) elusive change:
the play of a searchlight against the night sky[/ex]
17) a space in which something, as a part of a mechanism, can move
18) freedom of movement within a space
19) freedom or scope for activity:
full play of the mind[/ex]
20) cvb attention; coverage:
The scandal got a big play in the papers[/ex]
21) cvb an act or instance of being broadcast
22) to portray; enact:
to play Macbeth[/ex]
23) to perform (a drama, pantomime, etc.)
24) to act the part or character of in real life:
to play the fool; to play God[/ex]
25) to act or sustain (a part):
Economics played a part in the decision[/ex]
26) to give performances in:
to play the big cities[/ex]
27) to engage in (a game, pastime, etc.)
28) to contend against in a game
29) to perform in (a specified position or role) in a game or competition:
to play center field[/ex]
30) to employ in a game:
I played my highest card[/ex]
31) to use as if in playing a game, esp. for one's own advantage:
He played his brothers against each other[/ex]
32) to stake or wager, as in a game
33) to lay a wager or wagers on (something)
34) to represent or imitate, as for recreation:
to play cowboys and Indians[/ex]
35) to perform or be able to perform on (a musical instrument)
36) to perform (music) on an instrument
37) to perform the music of (a composer)
38) cvb to cause to produce sound or pictures:
played the VCR[/ex]
39) to perform or carry out, esp. as a sly or deceitful action:
to play tricks[/ex]
40) to put into operation; act upon:
to play a hunch[/ex]
41) to cause to move or change lightly or quickly:
to play lights on a fountain[/ex]
42) to operate or cause to operate, esp. continuously or with repeated action:
to play a hose on a fire[/ex]
43) spo to allow (a hooked fish) to exhaust itself by pulling on the line
44) cvb to display or feature (a news story, photograph, etc.), esp. prominently:
Play the flood photos on page one[/ex]
45) bus to exploit or trade in:
to play the stock market[/ex]
46) to occupy oneself in diversion, amusement, or recreation
47) to do something that is not to be taken seriously; sport
48) to amuse oneself; toy; trifle (often fol. by with)
49) to take part in a game
50) to take part in a game for stakes; gamble
51) to conduct oneself or act in a specified way:
to play fair[/ex]
52) to act on or as if on the stage; perform
53) to perform on a musical instrument
54) (of an instrument or music) to sound in performance
55) cvb to give forth sound:
The radio played all night[/ex]
56) to be performed or shown:
What's playing at the theater?[/ex]
57) to be capable of or suitable for performance, as a dramatic script
58) cvb to be received; go over:
How will the proposal play with the public?[/ex]
59) to move freely within a space, as a part of a mechanism
60) to move about lightly, quickly, or irregularly:
A smile played about her lips[/ex]
61) to operate continuously or with repeated action
62) to comply; cooperate
63) phv play along
a) phv to cooperate or concur
b) phv to pretend to cooperate or concur
64) phv play around
a) to behave in a playful or frivolous manner
b) to have promiscuous or adulterous sexual relations
65) phv play at
a) phv to pretend to do or be
b) phv to do without seriousness
66) phv play down, to treat as of little importance; minimize
67) phv spo play off
a) +spo to play an extra game or round in order to settle a tie
b) phv to set (one person or thing) against another, usu. for one's own gain or advantage
68) phv play on or upon, to exploit the weaknesses of; take advantage of:
played on his generosity[/ex]
69) cvb phv play up, to emphasize the importance of; highlight or publicize
70) +phv play up to, to attempt to please or impress in order to gain the favor of
Etymology: bef. 900; (n.) ME pleye, OE plega; (v.) ME pleyen, OE pleg(i) an, c. MD pleien to leap for joy, dance, rejoice)

From formal English to slang. 2014.

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