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Webster 1913 Edition


Play

Play

,
Verb.
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.
pflegen
; of unknown origin. √28. Cf.
Plight
,
Noun.
]
1.
To engage in sport or lively recreation; to exercise for the sake of amusement; to frolic; to spot.
As Cannace was
playing
in her walk.
Chaucer.
The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to-day,
Had he thy reason, would he skip and
play
!
Pope.
And some, the darlings of their Lord,
Play
smiling with the flame and sword.
Keble.
2.
To act with levity or thoughtlessness; to trifle; to be careless.
“Nay,” quod this monk, “I have no lust to
pleye
.”
Chaucer.
Men are apt to
play
with their healths.
Sir W. Temple.
3.
To contend, or take part, in a game;
as, to
play
ball
; hence, to gamble;
as, he
played
for heavy stakes
.
4.
To perform on an instrument of music;
as, to
play
on a flute
.
One that . . . can
play
well on an instrument.
Ezek. xxxiii. 32.
Play
, my friend, and charm the charmer.
Granville.
5.
To act; to behave; to practice deception.
His mother
played
false with a smith.
Shakespeare
6.
To move in any manner; especially, to move regularly with alternate or reciprocating motion; to operate; to act;
as, the fountain
plays
.
The heart beats, the blood circulates, the lungs
play
.
Cheyne.
7.
To move gayly; to wanton; to disport.
Even as the waving sedges
play
with wind.
Shakespeare
The setting sun
Plays
on their shining arms and burnished helmets.
Addison.
All fame is foreign but of true desert,
Plays
round the head, but comes not to the heart.
Pope.
8.
To act on the stage; to personate a character.
A lord will hear your
play
to-night.
Shakespeare
Courts are theaters where some men
play
.
Donne.
To play into a person’s hands
,
to act, or to manage matters, to his advantage or benefit.
To play off
,
to affect; to feign; to practice artifice.
To play upon
.
(a)
To make sport of; to deceive.

Art thou alive?
Or is it fantasy that
plays upon
our eyesight.
Shakespeare
(b)
To use in a droll manner; to give a droll expression or application to; as, to play upon words.

Play

,
Verb.
T.
1.
To put in action or motion;
as, to
play
cannon upon a fortification; to
play
a trump.
First Peace and Silence all disputes control,
Then Order
plays
the soul.
Herbert.
2.
To perform music upon;
as, to
play
the flute or the organ
.
3.
To perform, as a piece of music, on an instrument;
as, to
play
a waltz on the violin
.
4.
To bring into sportive or wanton action; to exhibit in action; to execute;
as, to
play
tricks
.
Nature here
Wantoned as in her prime, and
played
at will
Her virgin fancies.
Milton.
5.
To act or perform (a play); to represent in music action;
as, to
play
a comedy
; also, to act in the character of; to represent by acting; to simulate; to behave like;
as, to
play
King Lear; to
play
the woman.
Thou canst
play
the rational if thou wilt.
Sir W. Scott.
6.
To engage in, or go together with, as a contest for amusement or for a wager or prize;
as, to
play
a game at baseball
.
7.
To keep in play, as a hooked fish, in order to land it.
To play hob
,
to play the part of a mischievous spirit; to work mischief.
To play off
,
to display; to show; to put in exercise; as, to play off tricks.
To play one's cards
,
to manage one's means or opportunities; to contrive.
Played out
,
tired out; exhausted; at the end of one's resources.
[Colloq.]

Play

,
Noun.
1.
Amusement; sport; frolic; gambols.
2.
Any exercise, or series of actions, intended for amusement or diversion; a game.
John naturally loved rough
play
.
Arbuthnot.
3.
The act or practice of contending for victory, amusement, or a prize, as at dice, cards, or billiards; gaming;
as, to lose a fortune in
play
.
4.
Action; use; employment; exercise; practice;
as, fair
play
; sword
play
; a
play
of wit.
“The next who comes in play.”
Dryden.
5.
A dramatic composition; a comedy or tragedy; a composition in which characters are represented by dialogue and action.
A
play
ought to be a just image of human nature.
Dryden.
6.
The representation or exhibition of a comedy or tragedy;
as, he attends ever
play
.
7.
Performance on an instrument of music.
8.
Motion; movement, regular or irregular;
as, the
play
of a wheel or piston
; hence, also, room for motion; free and easy action.
“To give them play, front and rear.”
Milton.
The joints are let exactly into one another, that they have no
play
between them.
Moxon.
9.
Hence, liberty of acting; room for enlargement or display; scope;
as, to give full
play
to mirth
.
Play actor
,
an actor of dramas.
Prynne.
Play debt
,
a gambling debt.
Arbuthnot.
Play pleasure
,
idle amusement.
[Obs.]
Bacon.
A play upon words
,
the use of a word in such a way as to be capable of double meaning; punning.
Play of colors
,
prismatic variation of colors.
To bring into play
,
To come into play
,
to bring or come into use or exercise.
To hold in play
,
to keep occupied or employed.
I, with two more to help me,
Will
hold
the foe
in play
.
Macaulay.

Webster 1828 Edition


Play

PLAY

,
Verb.
I.
1.
To use any exercise for pleasure or recreation; to do something not as a task or for profit, but for amusement; as, to play at cricket.
The people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. Ex.32.
2.
To sport; to frolick; to frisk.
The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to day,
Had he thy reason, would he skip and play?
3.
To toy; to act with levity.
4.
To trifle; to act wantonly and thoughtlessly.
Men are apt to play with their healths and their lives as they do with their clothes.
5.
To do something fanciful; to give a fanciful turn to; as, to play upon words.
6.
To make sport,or practice sarcastic merriment.
I would make use of it rather to play upon those I despise,than trifle with those I love.
7.
To mock; to practice illusion.
Art thou alive,
Or is it fancy plays upon our eyesight?
8.
To contend in a game; as, to play at cards or dice; to play for diversion; to play for money.
9.
To practice a trick or deception.
His mother played false with a smith.
10. To perform on an instrument of music; as, to play on a flute, a violin or a harpsichord.
Play, my friend, and charm the charmer.
11. To move, or to move with alternate dilatation and contraction.
The heart beats, the blood circulates, the lungs play.
12. To operate; to act. The engines play against a fire.
13. To move irregularly; to wanton.
Ev'n as the waving sedges play with wind.
The setting sun
Plays on their shining arms and burnish'd helmets.
All fame is foreign, but of true desert,
Plays round the head, but comes not to the heart.
14. To act a part on the stage; to personate a character.
A lord will hear you play to-night.
15. To represent a standing character.
Courts are theaters where some men play.
16. To act in any particular character; as, to play the fool; to play the woman; to play the man.
17. To move in any manner; to move one way and another; as any part of a machine.

PLAY

,
Verb.
T.
To put in action or motion; as, to play cannon or a fire-engine.
1.
To use an instrument of music; as, to play the flute or the organ.
2.
To act a sportive part or character.
Nature here
Wanton'd as in her prime, and play'd at will
Her virgin fancies.
3.
To act or perform by representing a character; as, to play a comedy; to play the part of king Lear.
4.
To act; to perform; as, to play our parts well on the stage of life.
5. To perform in contest for amusement or for a prize; as, to play a game at whist.
To play off, to display; to show; to put in exercise; as, to play off tricks.
To play on or upon, to deceive; to mock or to trifle with.
1.
To give a fanciful turn to.

PLAY

,
Noun.
Any exercise or series of actions intended for pleasure, amusement or diversion, as at cricket or quoit, or at blind man's buff.
1.
Amusement; sport; frolic; gambols.
Two gentle fawns at play.
2.
Game; gaming; practice of contending for victory, for amusement or for a prize, as at dice, cards or billiards.
3.
Practice in any contest; as sword-play.
He was resolved not to speak distinctly, knowing his best play to be in the dark.
John naturally loved rough play.
4. Action; use; employment; office.
--But justifies the next who comes in play.
5.
Practice; action; manner of acting in contest or negotiation; as fair play; foul play.
6.
A dramatic composition; a comedy or tragedy; a composition in which characters are represented by dialogue and action.
A play ought to be a just image of human nature.
7.
Representation or exhibition of a comedy or tragedy; as, to be at the play. He attends every play.
8.
Performance on an instrument of music.
9.
Motion; movement, regular or irregular; as the play of a wheel or piston.
10. State of agitation or discussion.
Many have been sav'd, and many may,
Who never heard this question brought in play.
11. Room for motion.
The joints are let exactly into one another, that they have no play between them.
12. Liberty of acting; room for enlargement or display; scope; as, to give full play to mirth. Let the genius have free play.

Definition 2021


play

play

English

Verb

play (third-person singular simple present plays, present participle playing, simple past and past participle played)

  1. (intransitive) To act in a manner such that one has fun; to engage in activities expressly for the purpose of recreation or entertainment.
    They played long and hard.
    • 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. (ergative) To perform in (a sport); to participate in (a game).
    He plays on three teams. Who's playing now? play football; play sports; play games
    1. (transitive) To compete against, in a game.
      • 2011 November 12, International friendly: England 1-0 Spain”, in BBC Sport:
        England will not be catapulted among the favourites for Euro 2012 as a result of this win, but no victory against Spain is earned easily and it is right they take great heart from their efforts as they now prepare to play Sweden at Wembley on Tuesday.
  3. (intransitive) To take part in amorous activity; to make love, fornicate; to have sex.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, II.iv:
      Her proper face / I not descerned in that darkesome shade, / But weend it was my loue, with whom he playd.
  4. (transitive) To act as the indicated role, especially in a performance.
    He plays the King, and she's the Queen. No part of the brain plays the role of permanent memory.
    • 2013 May-June, Katrina G. Claw, Rapid Evolution in Eggs and Sperm”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 3:
      In plants, the ability to recognize self from nonself plays an important role in fertilization, because self-fertilization will result in less diverse offspring than fertilization with pollen from another individual.
  5. (heading, transitive, intransitive) To produce music or theatre.
    1. (intransitive, of a music) To produce music.
      • 2007, Dan Erlewine, Guitar Player Repair Guide (ISBN 0879309210), page 220:
        If your guitar plays well on fretted strings but annoys you on the open ones, the nut's probably worn out.
    2. (intransitive, chiefly of a person) To produce music using a musical instrument.
      I've practiced the piano off and on, and I still can't play very well.
    3. (transitive, chiefly of a person) To produce music (or a specified song or musical style) using (a specified musical instrument).
      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.
    4. (transitive, ergative) To use a device to watch or listen to the indicated recording.
      You can play the DVD now.
    5. (intransitive, of a theatrical performance) To be performed; (or of a film) to be shown.
      His latest film is playing in the local theatre tomorrow.
    6. (transitive, of a theatrical company or band, etc.) To perform in or at; to give performances in or at.
      • 2008, My Life: From Normandy to Hockeytown (ISBN 0966412087), p.30:
        I got a hold of Louis (Satchmo) Armstrong's agent and I explained to him on the phone that, "I know you're playing London on Wednesday night. Why don't you come and play the Arena in Windsor on Saturday night?"
    7. (transitive) To act or perform (a play).
      to play a comedy
  6. (heading) To behave in a particular way.
    1. (copulative) Contrary to fact, to give an appearance of being.
      • (Can we date this quote?) Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)
        Thou canst play the rational if thou wilt.
      • 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. Malone, 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, p.194:
        Instead, they played dumb, remained silent, and did their classwork.
    2. (intransitive) To act with levity or thoughtlessness; to trifle; to be careless.
      • (Can we date this quote?) Sir William Temple (1628–1699):
        Men are apt to play with their healths.
    3. (intransitive) To act; to behave; to practice deception.
      • (Can we date this quote?) William Shakespeare (1564-1616):
        His mother played false with a smith.
    4. (transitive) To bring into sportive or wanton action; to exhibit in action; to execute.
      to play tricks
      • (Can we date this quote?) John Milton (1608-1674):
        Nature here / Wantoned as in her prime, and played at will / Her virgin fancies.
      • 1920, Mary Roberts Rinehart, Avery Hopwood, The Bat, chapterI:
        The Bat—they called him the Bat. []. He'd never been in stir, the bulls had never mugged him, he didn't run with a mob, he played a lone hand, and fenced his stuff so that even the fence couldn't swear he knew his face.
  7. (intransitive) To move in any manner; especially, to move regularly with alternate or reciprocating motion; to operate.
    The fountain plays.
  8. (intransitive) To move gaily; to disport.
    • (Can we date this quote?) William Shakespeare (1564-1616):
      even as the waving sedges play with wind
    • (Can we date this quote?) Joseph Addison (1672-1719):
      The setting sun / Plays on their shining arms and burnished helmets.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Alexander Pope (1688-1744):
      All fame is foreign but of true desert, / Plays round the head, but comes not to the heart.
  9. (transitive) To put in action or motion.
    to play cannon upon a fortification; to play a trump in a card game
  10. (transitive) To keep in play, as a hooked fish, in order to land it.
  11. (transitive) To manipulate or deceive someone.
    You played me!

Hypernyms

Conjugation

Translations

Noun

play (countable and uncountable, plural plays)

  1. (uncountable, formerly countable) Activity for amusement only, especially among the young.
    • Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
      She was fond of all boys' plays, and greatly preferred cricket [] to dolls []
  2. (uncountable) Similar activity, in young animals, as they explore their environment and learn new skills.
  3. (uncountable, ethology) "Repeated, incompletely functional behavior differing from more serious versions ..., and initiated voluntarily when ... in a low-stress setting."
  4. The conduct, or course of a game.
  5. (countable) An individual's performance in a sport or game.
  6. (countable) (turn-based games) An action carried out when it is one's turn to play.
  7. (countable) A literary composition, intended to be represented by actors impersonating the characters and speaking the dialogue.
  8. (countable) A theatrical performance featuring actors.
    We saw a two-act play in the theatre.
  9. (countable) A major move by a business.
  10. (countable) A geological formation that contains an accumulation or prospect of hydrocarbons or other resources.
  11. (uncountable) 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.
  12. (uncountable, informal) Sexual role-playing.
    • 1996, Sabrina P Ramet, Gender reversals and gender cultures
      The rarity of male domination in fantasy play is readily explained.
    • 1996, "toptigger", (on Internet newsgroup alt.personals.spanking.punishment)
      Palm Springs M seeks sane F 4 safe bdsm play
    • 2013, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Best Bondage Erotica 2014
      There were none of the usual restrictions on public nudity or sexual interaction in the club environment. Still, the night was young, and as he'd made his way to the bar to order Mistress Ramona a gin and tonic, he'd seen little in the way of play.
    • 2014, Jiri T. Servant, Facts About Bondage - Bondage Guide For Beginners
      This type of play allows some people to relax and enjoy being given pleasure without having to think about giving pleasure back at the same time.
  13. (countable) A button that, when pressed, causes media to be played.

Synonyms

  • (literary composition): drama
  • See also Wikisaurus:drama

Translations

Derived terms

See also

Statistics

Most common English words before 1923: London · save · length · #580: play · remained · bear · service

Italian

Etymology

Borrowing from English play.

Noun

play m (invariable)

  1. play (theatrical performance; start key)

Interjection

play!

  1. used to announce the start a game of tennis

Spanish

Etymology

Borrowing from English play.

Noun

play m (plural plays)

  1. play (button)