plays, playing, played
1) VERB When children, animals, or perhaps adults play, they spend time doing enjoyable things, such as using toys and taking part in games.

...invite the children round to play...

They played in the little garden...

[V with n] Polly was playing with her teddy bear.

Play is also a noun.

...a few hours of play until the baby-sitter takes them off to bed.

2) V-RECIP When you play a sport, game, or match, you take part in it.

[pl-n V n] While the twins played cards, Francis sat reading...

[V n with n] Alain was playing cards with his friends...

[V n (non-recip)] I used to play basketball...

[V for n (non-recip)] I want to play for my country...

[V (non-recip)] He captained the team but he didn't actually play.

Play is also a noun.

Both sides adopted the Continental style of play.

3) VERB When one person or team plays another or plays against them, they compete against them in a sport or game.

[V n] Northern Ireland will play Latvia...

[V against n] I've played against him a few times.

Play is also a noun.

Fischer won after 5 hours and 41 minutes of play.

4) VERB When you play the ball or play a shot in a game or sport, you kick or hit the ball.

[V n] Think first before playing the ball...

[V n] Sikander Bakht played a bad shot...

[V n adv] I played the ball back slightly.

5) VERB If you play a joke or a trick on someone, you deceive them or give them a surprise in a way that you think is funny, but that often causes problems for them or annoys them.

[V n on n] Someone had played a trick on her, stretched a piece of string at the top of those steps...

[V n] I thought: `This cannot be happening, somebody must be playing a joke'.

6) VERB If you play with an object or with your hair, you keep moving it or touching it with your fingers, perhaps because you are bored or nervous.

[V with n] She stared at the floor, idly playing with the strap of her handbag.

7) N-COUNT A play is a piece of writing which is performed in a theatre, on the radio, or on television.

The company put on a play about the homeless...

It's my favourite Shakespeare play.

8) VERB If an actor plays a role or character in a play or film, he or she performs the part of that character.

[V n] ...Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, in which he played Hyde...

[V n] His ambition is to play the part of Dracula.

9) V-LINK You can use play to describe how someone behaves, when they are deliberately behaving in a certain way or like a certain type of person. For example, to play the innocent, means to pretend to be innocent, and to play deaf means to pretend not to hear something.

[V n] Hill tried to play the peacemaker...

[V n] She was just playing the devoted mother...

So you want to play nervous today? [Also V adj]

10) VERB You can describe how someone deals with a situation by saying that they play it in a certain way. For example, if someone plays it cool, they keep calm and do not show much emotion, and if someone plays it straight, they behave in an honest and direct way.

[V it adj/adv] Investors are playing it cautious, and they're playing it smart.

11) V-ERG If you play a musical instrument or play a tune on a musical instrument, or if a musical instrument plays, music is produced from it.

[V n] Nina had been playing the piano...

[V n] Two people played jazz on a piano...

[V for n] He played for me...

[V n n] Place your baby in her seat and play her a lullaby...

The guitars played. [Also V n for n]

12) V-ERG If you play a record, a compact disc, or a tape, you put it into a machine and sound is produced. If a record or tape is playing, sound is being produced from it.

[V n] She played her records too loudly...

[V n] Every evening in those days the BBC played `God Save The King'...

[V n] The records were played on the radio...

There is classical music playing in the background. [Also V n n]

13) VERB If a musician or group of musicians plays or plays a concert, they perform music for people to listen or dance to.

A band was playing...

[V n] He will play concerts in Amsterdam and Paris.

14) VERB When light plays somewhere, it moves about on a surface in an unsteady way. [LITERARY]

[V prep] The sun played on the frosty roofs.

15) PHRASE: V inflects (feelings) If you ask what someone is playing at, you are angry because you think they are doing something stupid or wrong. [INFORMAL]

What the hell are you playing at?.

16) PHRASE: V inflects When something comes into play or is brought into play, it begins to be used or to have an effect.

The real existence of a military option will come into play...

Breathing brings many muscles into play.

17) PHRASE: V inflects, usu PHR in n If something or someone plays a part or plays a role in a situation, they are involved in it and have an effect on it.

They played a part in the life of their community...

The UN would play a major role in monitoring a ceasefire.

...the role played by diet in disease.

18) to play ballsee ball
to play your cards rightsee card
to play it by earsee ear
to play fairsee fair
to play fast and loosesee fast
to play second fiddlesee fiddle
to play the fieldsee field
to play with firesee fire
to play the foolsee fool
to play to the gallerysee gallery
to play into someone's handssee hand
to play hard to getsee hard
to play havocsee havoc
to play hostsee host
to play safesee safe
to play for timesee time
to play truantsee truant
Phrasal Verbs:

English dictionary. 2008.

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Look at other dictionaries:

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