From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary Englishplayplay1 /pleɪ/ ●●● S1 W1 verb 🔊 🔊 1 children [intransitive, transitive]DGO when children play, they do things that they enjoy, often with other people or with toys 🔊 Kids were playing and chasing each other.play catch/house/tag/school etc 🔊 Outside, the children were playing cowboys and Indians.play with 🔊 Did you like to play with dolls when you were little? 🔊 Parents need to spend time just playing with their children.2 sports/games a) [intransitive, transitive]PLAY A GAME OR SPORT to take part or compete in a game or sport 🔊 Karen began playing basketball when she was six. 🔊 If you feel any pain, you shouldn’t play. 🔊 Men were sitting in the park, playing cards.play against 🔊 Bristol will play against Coventry next week. 🔊 She’s playing Helen Evans in the semi-final (=playing against her).play for 🔊 Moxon played for England in ten test matches. b) [transitive] to use a particular piece, card, person etc in a game or sport 🔊 Harrison played a ten of spades. 🔊 The Regents played Eddie at center (=used him as a player in that position) in the game against Arizona. c) [intransitive, transitive] to take a particular position on a team 🔊 Garvey played first base for the Dodgers. d) [transitive] to hit a ball in a particular way or to a particular place in a game or sport 🔊 She played the ball low, just over the net.3 music [intransitive, transitive]PERFORMto perform a piece of music on a musical instrument 🔊 He’s learning to play the piano. 🔊 She played a Bach prelude. 🔊 Haden has played with many jazz greats. 🔊 A small orchestra was playing.4 radio/cd etc [intransitive, transitive] if a radio, CD etc plays, or if you play it, it produces sound, especially music 🔊 The bedside radio played softly.play a record/CD/tape etc 🔊 DJs playing the latest house and techno tracks5 theatre/film a) [transitive]APT to perform the actions and say the words of a particular character in a theatre performance, film etc 🔊 Streep plays a shy, nervous woman.play a role/part/character etc 🔊 Playing a character so different from herself was a challenge. b) [intransitive]APTPERFORM if a play or film is playing at a particular theatre, it is being performed or shown there 🔊 ‘Macbeth’ is playing at the Theatre Royal in York. c) [transitive]APTPERFORM if actors play a theatre, they perform there in a play6 → play a part/role7 → play ball8 pretend [linking verb]BEHAVE to behave as if you are a particular kind of person or have a particular feeling or quality, even though it is not true 🔊 the accusation that scientists are playing God 🔊 Some snakes fool predators by playing dead. 🔊 ‘What do you mean?’ ‘Don’t play dumb (=pretend you do not know something).' 🔊 Don’t play the innocent (=pretend you do not know about something) with me – we both know what happened.play the idiot/the teacher etc 🔊 Susan felt she had to play the good wife. 🔊 He played the fool (=behaved in a silly way) at school instead of working.9 behave [transitive always + adverb/preposition]BEHAVE to behave in a particular way in a situation, in order to achieve the result or effect that you want 🔊 How do you want to play this meeting? 🔊 Play it safe (=avoid risks) and make sure the eggs are thoroughly cooked.play it carefully/cool etc 🔊 If you like him, play it cool, or you might scare him off.10 → play games11 → play something by ear12 → play a joke/trick/prank on somebody13 → play the game14 → play the race/nationalist/environmentalist etc card15 → play your cards right16 → play your cards close to your chest17 → play into somebody’s hands18 → play for time19 → play tricks (on you)20 → play the market21 → play the system22 → play second fiddle (to somebody)23 → play hard to get24 smile [intransitive always + adverb/preposition] writtenSMILE if a smile plays about someone’s lips, they smile slightly25 → play hooky26 → play with fire27 → play to your strengths28 light [intransitive always + adverb/preposition] writtenSHINE if light plays on something, it shines on it and moves on it 🔊 the sunlight playing on the water29 water [intransitive] written if a fountain plays, water comes from it30 → play a hose/light on something31 → play the field32 → play fast and loose with something33 → play happy families → play around → play around with something → play along → play at something → play something ↔ back → play something ↔ down → play off → play somebody off against somebody → play on/upon something → play something ↔ out → play up → play up to somebody → play with somebody/something→ See Verb table
Examples from the Corpusplay• Kendra's in her room playing.• Ask Alex if he wants to play.• In the Pittsburgh-Bills game, I have to like the way Buffalo is playing.• Age-sensitive political issues such as Social Security and Medicare will play a major role in the campaign, of course.• Your child can play all three goats and you the troll if there are just the two of you.• Karl loves basketball and plays almost every weekend.• Blake's composing and playing are, perhaps ironically, bristling with life.• Relaxing music is played at the beginning of the float and again at the end to indicate your time is up.• I have a recording of Kreisler playing Bach's E major concerto.• Do you know how to play backgammon?• The neck feels solid and moderately chubby, although not immediately reminiscent of anything I've played before.• Charles likes to play Celtic music on his flute.• I've only played chess a few times.• Did you ever play doctors and nurses when you were small?• It's been a long time since I played hockey.• Come on - let's go inside and play house!• I'm playing in a tennis match this Sunday.• Do you play in an orchestra?• Every Sunday we play Monopoly or some other board game.• I used to play tennis all the time.• I played the ace of clubs and won the game.• Matt plays the drums.• She tried to teach him how to play the piano, but he had no great talent for it.• I didn't know you could play the violin.• "They played well against us, " Cooper said, "I have to give them credit."• Jimmy was playing with a little boat in the bathtub.• Ian was upstairs playing with his new train set.play catch/house/tag/school etc• Got too possessive, kept wanting to play house.• Some legislators set up housekeeping when the biennial gatherings began and played house for the six-month sessions.• Elegantly restored ballroom that plays house, garage and disco to a smartly dressed, trendy crowd-no jeans or trainers.• I read to him, played catch in the alley and taught him how to ride his new bike.• Universal Pictures wanted Chase to play house philanderer Otter, and the role was offered to him.• This was not playing catch; this was important.• The voice was not what I'd have expected from a girl who'd been playing house with a mug like Mahoney.• From my second-floor vantage point I could see my classmates as they tumbled out into the quad playing catch with my shoes.play for• Iverson plays for the Philadelphia 76ers.play a record/CD/tape etc• I was intensely interested in journalism, and all the things around it, whether it was performing or actually playing records.• I was talking to her at a women's group meeting - we were playing records.• They also perform surgery, detect radiation and play records.• We help each other with homework ... then play records and that.• The operator plays a recording from one recent evening.• This gave us an overall playing record of four wins out of six matches played, with one defeat and one match abandoned.• No baby, just a tape recorder playing a tape of my little sister crying when she was a baby.• Some people think you just play records, when in fact you're putting together a whole programme.play a role/part/character etc• The goals are to make sure everyone understands, everyone plays a part, and everyone shares in the credit.• Throughout the play characters are giving advice to one another as to how they should behave.• The New Man rejects traditional roles of parenthood and likes to play a part in decision-making.• Interestingly the commercial value of the site did not play a part in the calculation.• Do methods of communication play a part in the creation of this desirable environment?• The fourth dimension also played a part in uniting a number of abstract painters and sculptors in the inter-war period.• Third, the student plays a role of dissent.• So, although new designs and reorganizations play a role, they are never enough to shape a complete vision of how.playing dead• The snake fools predators by playing dead.• Indeed, it must be fully aware of what is happening to it when it is playing dead.• Liz thought of an insect playing dead.• I just laid there playing dead, and he was pawing the ground, trying to get me to get up.play it carefully/cool etc• Have to find out for himself, no other way, poke around, listen, ask, play it carefully.• She was trying to play it cool.• The band had wanted a major deal for at least two years previously, but were determined to play it cool.• Rather than rushing into print in Nature, however, Cantor played it cool and cautious.• Tod's playing it cool, of course, as always.• Plus, playing it cool ... the dark secrets of an orchid grower And, who said Robins could sing?