1》 engage in games or other activities for enjoyment rather than for a serious or practical purpose.
    ↘amuse oneself by engaging in imaginative pretence.
    ↘(play with) treat inconsiderately for one's own amusement: she likes to play with people's emotions.
    ↘tamper with something so as to damage it: has somebody been playing with these taps?
2》 take part in (a sport or contest).
    ↘compete against.
    ↘take a specified position in a sports team: he played in goal.
    ↘strike (a ball) or execute (a stroke).
    ↘move (a piece) or display (a playing card) in one's turn in a game.
    ↘bet or gamble at or on.
3》 informal be cooperative.
4》 represent (a character) in a play or film.
    ↘give a performance at (a particular venue).
    ↘pretend to be: the skipper played the innocent.
    ↘(play someone for) treat someone as being of (a specified type): don't imagine you can play me for a fool.
5》 perform on or have the skill to perform on (a musical instrument).
    ↘produce (notes) from a musical instrument; perform (a piece of music).
    ↘make (a record player, radio, etc.) produce sounds.
6》 move lightly and quickly; flicker: a smile played about her lips.
7》 allow (a fish) to exhaust itself on a line before reeling it in.
1》 games and other activities engaged in for enjoyment, especially by children.
    ↘behaviour or speech that is not intended seriously.
2》 the progress of a sporting match.
    ↘the status of the ball in a game as being available to be played according to the rules: the ball was put in play.
    ↘a move or manoeuvre in a sport or game.
3》 the state of being active, operative, or effective: luck comes into play.
4》 a dramatic work for the stage or to be broadcast.
5》 the ability or freedom of movement in a mechanism.
6》 light and constantly changing movement.
7》 archaic gambling.
make a play for informal attempt to attract or attain.
make (great) play of (or with) ostentatiously draw attention to.
make play with treat frivolously.
play something by ear
1》 perform music without having seen a score.
2》 (play it by ear) informal proceed instinctively according to circumstances rather than according to rules or a plan.
play fast and loose behave irresponsibly or immorally.
play for time use specious excuses or unnecessary manoeuvres to gain time.
play a (or one's) hunch make an instinctive choice.
play into someone's hands act in such a way as unintentionally to give someone an advantage.
play it cool informal make an effort to be or appear to be unconcerned.
a play on words a pun.
play (it) safe avoid taking risks.
play with oneself informal masturbate.
play with fire take foolish risks.
Phrasal verbs
play about (or around) behave in a casual or irresponsible way.
informal (of a married person) have an affair.
play along perform a piece of music at the same time as a recorded version of it is playing.
↘pretend to cooperate.
play someone along informal deceive or mislead someone.
play something down pretend that something is less important than it in fact is.
play someone off bring other people into conflict for one's own advantage.
play off (of two competitors) play an extra match to decide a draw or tie.
play on exploit (someone's weak or vulnerable point).
play up
1》 Brit. informal fail to function properly; cause problems.
2》 Brit. put all one's energy into a game.
play something up emphasize the extent or importance of something.
play up to humour or flatter.
playability noun
playable adjective
OE pleg(i)an 'to exercise', plega 'brisk movement'.

English new terms dictionary. 2014.

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