Definition of play


  • a dramatic work intended for performance by actors on a stage; "he wrote several plays but only one was produced on Broadway". Synonyms: drama, dramatic play.
  • a theatrical performance of a drama; "the play lasted two hours".
  • a preset plan of action in team sports; "the coach drew up the plays for her team".
  • a deliberate coordinated movement requiring dexterity and skill; "he made a great maneuver", "the runner was out on a play by the shortstop". Synonyms: maneuver, manoeuvre.
  • a state in which action is feasible; "the ball was still in play", "insiders said the company's stock was in play".
  • utilization or exercise; "the play of the imagination".
  • an attempt to get something; "they made a futile play for power", "he made a bid to gain attention". Synonyms: bid.
  • activity by children that is guided more by imagination than by fixed rules; "Freud believed in the utility of play to a small child". Synonyms: child's play.
  • (in games or plays or other performances) the time during which play proceeds; "rain stopped play in the 4th inning". Synonyms: period of play, playing period.
  • the removal of constraints; "he gave free rein to his impulses", "they gave full play to the artist's talent". Synonyms: free rein.
  • a weak and tremulous light; "the shimmer of colors on iridescent feathers", "the play of light on the water". Synonyms: shimmer.
  • verbal wit or mockery (often at another's expense but not to be taken seriously); "he became a figure of fun", "he said it in sport". Synonyms: fun, sport.
  • movement or space for movement; "there was too much play in the steering wheel". Synonyms: looseness. Antonyms: tightness.
  • gay or light-hearted recreational activity for diversion or amusement; "it was all done in play", "their frolic in the surf threatened to become ugly". Synonyms: caper, frolic, gambol, romp.
  • (game) the activity of doing something in an agreed succession; "it is my turn", "it is still my play". Synonyms: turn.
  • the act of playing for stakes in the hope of winning (including the payment of a price for a chance to win a prize); "his gambling cost him a fortune", "there was heavy play at the blackjack table". Synonyms: gambling, gaming.
  • the act using a sword (or other weapon) vigorously and skillfully. Synonyms: swordplay.


  • participate in games or sport; "We played hockey all afternoon", "play cards", "Pele played for the Brazilian teams in many important matches".
  • 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".
  • play on an instrument; "The band played all night long".
  • play a role or part; "Gielgud played Hamlet", "She wants to act Lady Macbeth, but she is too young for the role", "She played the servant to her husband's master". Synonyms: act, represent.
  • 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".
  • replay (as a melody); "Play it again, Sam", "She played the third movement very beautifully". Synonyms: spiel.
  • perform music on (a musical instrument); "He plays the flute", "Can you play on this old recorder?".
  • pretend to have certain qualities or state of mind; "He acted the idiot", "She plays deaf when the news are bad". Synonyms: act, act as.
  • move or seem to move quickly, lightly, or irregularly; "The spotlights played on the politicians".
  • bet or wager (money); "He played $20 on the new horse", "She plays the races".
  • engage in recreational activities rather than work; occupy oneself in a diversion; "On weekends I play", "The students all recreate alike". Synonyms: recreate.
  • pretend to be somebody in the framework of a game or playful activity; "Let's play like I am mommy", "Play cowboy and Indians".
  • emit recorded sound; "The tape was playing for hours", "the stereo was playing Beethoven when I entered".
  • perform on a certain location; "The prodigy played Carnegie Hall at the age of 16", "She has been playing on Broadway for years".
  • 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".
  • 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", "toy with an idea". Synonyms: toy.
  • behave in a certain way; "play safe", "play it safe", "play fair".
  • cause to emit recorded audio or video; "They ran the tapes over and over again", "I'll play you my favorite record", "He never tires of playing that video". Synonyms: run.
  • manipulate manually or in one's mind or imagination; "She played nervously with her wedding ring", "Don't fiddle with the screws", "He played with the idea of running for the Senate". Synonyms: diddle, fiddle, toy.
  • use to one's advantage; "She plays on her clients' emotions".
  • consider not very seriously; "He is trifling with her", "She plays with the thought of moving to Tasmania". Synonyms: dally, trifle.
  • 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".
  • behave carelessly or indifferently; "Play about with a young girl's affection". Synonyms: dally, flirt, toy.
  • cause to move or operate freely within a bounded space; "The engine has a wheel that is playing in a rack".
  • perform on a stage or theater; "She acts in this play", "He acted in `Julius Caesar'", "I played in `A Christmas Carol'". Synonyms: act, playact, roleplay.
  • be performed or presented for public viewing; "What's playing in the local movie theater?", "`Cats' has been playing on Broadway for many years".
  • cause to happen or to occur as a consequence; "I cannot work a miracle", "wreak havoc", "bring comments", "play a joke", "The rain brought relief to the drought-stricken area". Synonyms: bring, make for, work, wreak.
  • discharge or direct or be discharged or directed as if in a continuous stream; "play water from a hose", "The fountains played all day".
  • make bets; "Play the races", "play the casinos in Trouville".
  • stake on the outcome of an issue; "I bet $100 on that new horse", "She played all her money on the dark horse". Synonyms: bet, wager.
  • shoot or hit in a particular manner; "She played a good backhand last night".
  • use or move; "I had to play my queen".
  • employ in a game or in a specific position; "They played him on first base".
  • contend against an opponent in a sport, game, or battle; "Princeton plays Yale this weekend", "Charlie likes to play Mary". Synonyms: encounter, meet, take on.
  • exhaust by allowing to pull on the line; "play a hooked fish".

Related words

accompany, ace, assist, attack, back, backstop, bandy, bat, beat, bet, bid, blitz, bow, bowl, bugle, busk, call, catch, cavort, chord, clarion, clowning, comedy, complete, completion, confront, coquetry, cover, cradle, craziness, cricket, croquet, curl, dabble, dalliance, debut, declare, develop, die, disport, doctor, down, drollery, drum, emote, enact, exit, face, fencing, fiddle, field, figure, fireman, flirt, flirtation, flirting, follow, folly, fool, foolery, footwork, foul, frisk, frolic, fullback, fumble, funniness, gage, gamble, gambol, game, golf, ham, harp, hole, hook, horseplay, house, icing, impersonate, indulgence, innings, jazz, jocosity, jocularity, jugglery, lark, lead, lunacy, make, mime, misplay, modulate, mousetrap, move, musical, nail, obstruction, overact, overplay, paddle, pantomime, parody, paronomasia, pipe, pitch, playlet, portray, prelude, pretend, promote, pun, punning, punt, putt, quarterback, rag, raise, razmataz, razzle, razzmatazz, recapitulate, reenact, register, repeat, replay, reprise, reprize, retire, revoke, riff, rollick, romp, roughhouse, ruff, see, seesaw, set, shot, skirl, skylark, slack, slackness, slur, snooker, sport, stake, start, starting, stooge, stroke, support, swing, symphonise, symphonize, takeaway, teasing, teetertotter, throw, tomfoolery, tongue, toying, trick, trumpet, trumping, tweedle, unblock, underact, underplay, volley, wager, waggery, waggishness, walk, wiggliness, wordplay.

Words nearby play

clay, flay, lay, pay, plan, plat, platy, ploy, ply, pray, slay, splay.

Rhymes with play

a, aaa, aba, abbe, allay, anime, array, asea, astray, attache, away, ba, baa, ballet, bay, benet, betray, bey, bombay, bouquet.

Start with play

playactors, playwright, playdowns, playacts, playday, plays, playability, playhouses, playhouse, playsuit, playtime, playdays, playwrights, plaything, playactings, player, playfellow, playlet, playgroups, playwrightings, playwritings, playmaking, playdates, playabilities, playlands, playfulness, playthings, playland, playmakings, playgirl, playfield, playa, playoffs, playmakers, playacting, playback, playgrounds, playless, playwriting, playlists, and 44 more.

End with play

teleplay, byplay, wordplay, gunplay, counterplay, interplay, misplay, horseplay, screenplay, underplay, display, endplay, airplay, overplay, replay, photoplay, swordplay, redisplay, splay, downplay, foreplay, outplay, nonplay.

More information about play

play unscrambled

Scrabble and Words With Friends points

  • play is a valid Scrabble US word, worth 9 points
  • play is a valid Scrabble UK word, worth 9 points
  • play is a valid Words With Friends word, worth 10 points
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