(noun, verb)


1. a dramatic work intended for performance by actors on a stage

- he wrote several plays but only one was produced on Broadway

Similar word(s): drama

Definition categories: communication

2. a theatrical performance of a drama

- the play lasted two hours

Definition categories: communication, show

3. a preset plan of action in team sports

- the coach drew up the plays for her team

Definition categories: act

4. a deliberate coordinated movement requiring dexterity and skill

- the runner was out on a play by the shortstop

Similar word(s): maneuver, manoeuvre

Definition categories: act, motion, move, movement

5. a state in which action is feasible

- the ball was still in play

- insiders said the company's stock was in play

Definition categories: state, action, activeness, activity

6. utilization or exercise

- the play of the imagination

Definition categories: act, employment, exercise, usage, use, utilisation, utilization

7. an attempt to get something

- they made a futile play for power

Similar word(s): bid

Definition categories: act, attempt, effort, endeavor, endeavour, try

8. activity by children that is guided more by imagination than by fixed rules

- Freud believed in the utility of play to a small child

Definition categories: act, diversion, recreation

9. (in games or plays or other performances) the time during which play proceeds

- rain stopped play in the 4th inning

Definition categories: time, amount, measure, quantity

10. the removal of constraints

- they gave full play to the artist's talent

Definition categories: state, freedom

11. a weak and tremulous light

- the play of light on the water

Similar word(s): shimmer

Definition categories: event, alteration, change, modification

12. verbal wit or mockery (often at another's expense but not to be taken seriously)

Similar word(s): fun, sport

Definition categories: communication, humor, humour, wit, witticism, wittiness

13. movement or space for movement

- there was too much play in the steering wheel

Similar word(s): looseness

Definition categories: attribute, movability, movableness

14. gay or light-hearted recreational activity for diversion or amusement

- it was all done in play

Similar word(s): caper, frolic, gambol, romp

Definition categories: act, diversion, recreation

15. (game) the activity of doing something in an agreed succession

- it is still my play

Similar word(s): turn

Definition categories: act, activity

16. the act of playing for stakes in the hope of winning (including the payment of a price for a chance to win a prize)

- there was heavy play at the blackjack table

Similar word(s): gambling, gaming

Definition categories: act, diversion, recreation, vice

17. the act using a sword (or other weapon) vigorously and skillfully

Similar word(s): swordplay

Definition categories: act, action

Sentences with play as a noun:

- We saw a two-act play in the theatre.

- No wonder the fanbelt is slipping: there’s too much play in it.

- Too much play in a steering wheel may be dangerous.


1. participate in games or sport

- We played hockey all afternoon

- play cards

- Pele played for the Brazilian teams in many important matches

Definition categories: competition, compete, contend, vie

2. act or have an effect in a specified way or with a specific effect or outcome

- This factor played only a minor part in his decision

- This development played into her hands

- I played no role in your dismissal

Definition categories: social, act, move

3. play on an instrument

- The band played all night long

Definition categories: creation, perform

4. play a role or part

- Gielgud played Hamlet

- She played the servant to her husband's master

Similar word(s): act, represent

Definition categories: creation

5. be at play; be engaged in playful activity; amuse oneself in a way characteristic of children

- The kids were playing outside all day

- I used to play with trucks as a little girl

Definition categories: social, act

6. replay (as a melody)

- Play it again, Sam

- She played the third movement very beautifully

Similar word(s): spiel

Definition categories: creation

7. perform music on (a musical instrument)

- He plays the flute

- Can you play on this old recorder?

Definition categories: creation, sound

8. pretend to have certain qualities or state of mind

- She plays deaf when the news are bad

Similar word(s): act

Definition categories: body, act, behave, do

9. move or seem to move quickly, lightly, or irregularly

- The spotlights played on the politicians

Definition categories: motion, go, locomote, move, travel

10. bet or wager (money)

- He played $20 on the new horse

- She plays the races

Definition categories: competition, gamble

11. engage in recreational activities rather than work; occupy oneself in a diversion

- On weekends I play

Similar word(s): recreate

Definition categories: social

12. pretend to be somebody in the framework of a game or playful activity

- Let's play like I am mommy

- Play cowboy and Indians

Definition categories: creation, assume, feign, sham, simulate

13. emit recorded sound

- The tape was playing for hours

- the stereo was playing Beethoven when I entered

Definition categories: creation, sound

14. perform on a certain location

- The prodigy played Carnegie Hall at the age of 16

- She has been playing on Broadway for years

Definition categories: creation, perform

15. put (a card or piece) into play during a game, or act strategically as if in a card game

- He is playing his cards close to his chest

- The Democrats still have some cards to play before they will concede the electoral victory

Definition categories: competition, deploy

16. 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

Similar word(s): toy

Definition categories: body, act, behave, do

17. behave in a certain way

- play safe

- play it safe

- play fair

Definition categories: social, act, move

18. cause to emit recorded audio or video

- I'll play you my favorite record

- He never tires of playing that video

Similar word(s): run

Definition categories: creation

19. manipulate manually or in one's mind or imagination

- She played nervously with her wedding ring

- He played with the idea of running for the Senate

Similar word(s): diddle, fiddle, toy

Definition categories: contact, manipulate

20. use to one's advantage

- She plays on her clients' emotions

Definition categories: consumption, exploit, work

21. consider not very seriously

- She plays with the thought of moving to Tasmania

Similar word(s): dally, trifle

Definition categories: cognition, consider, deal, take

22. be received or accepted or interpreted in a specific way

- This speech didn't play well with the American public

- His remarks played to the suspicions of the committee

Definition categories: stative

23. behave carelessly or indifferently

- Play about with a young girl's affection

Similar word(s): dally, flirt, toy

Definition categories: social, act, move

24. cause to move or operate freely within a bounded space

- The engine has a wheel that is playing in a rack

Definition categories: motion, displace, move

25. perform on a stage or theater

- She acts in this play

- I played in `A Christmas Carol'

Similar word(s): act, playact, roleplay

Definition categories: creation, perform

26. be performed or presented for public viewing

- What's playing in the local movie theater?

- `Cats' has been playing on Broadway for many years

Definition categories: creation

27. cause to happen or to occur as a consequence

- play a joke

Similar word(s): bring, work, wreak

Definition categories: creation, create, make

28. discharge or direct or be discharged or directed as if in a continuous stream

- play water from a hose

- The fountains played all day

Definition categories: contact, discharge

29. make bets

- Play the races

- play the casinos in Trouville

Definition categories: competition, bet, play, wager

30. stake on the outcome of an issue

- She played all her money on the dark horse

Similar word(s): bet, wager

Definition categories: competition, gamble

31. shoot or hit in a particular manner

- She played a good backhand last night

Definition categories: competition, hit

32. use or move

- I had to play my queen

Definition categories: competition, apply, employ, use, utilise, utilize

33. employ in a game or in a specific position

- They played him on first base

Definition categories: competition, apply, employ, use, utilise, utilize

34. contend against an opponent in a sport, game, or battle

- Princeton plays Yale this weekend

- Charlie likes to play Mary

Similar word(s): encounter, meet

Definition categories: competition

35. exhaust by allowing to pull on the line

- play a hooked fish

Definition categories: body, beat, exhaust, tucker

Sentences with play as a verb:

- They played long and hard.

- He plays on three teams.  Who's playing now?  play football;  play sports;  play games

- He plays the King, and she's the Queen.  No part of the brain plays the role of permanent memory.

- I've practiced the piano off and on, and I still can't play very well.

- I'll play the piano and you sing.  Can you play an 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.

- You can play the DVD now.

- His latest film is playing in the local theatre tomorrow.

- to play a comedy

- to play tricks

- The fountain plays.

- to play cannon upon a fortification;  to play a trump in a card game

- You played me!