play at

play at
1) PHRASAL VERB: no passive (disapproval) If you say that someone is playing at something, you disapprove of the fact that they are doing it casually and not very seriously.

[V P n/-ing] We were still playing at war - dropping leaflets instead of bombs.

2) PHRASAL VERB: no passive If someone, especially a child, plays at being someone or doing something, they pretend to be that person or do that thing as a game.

[V P n/-ing] Ed played at being a pirate.

3) PHRASAL VERB If you do not know what someone is playing at, you do not understand what they are doing or what they are trying to achieve. [INFORMAL]

[V P] She began to wonder what he was playing at...

[V P] `What do you think you're playing at?' he said. `I can't sell this.'


English dictionary. 2008.

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