Language: Old English
Origin: plega


2 noun
play2 S1 W2


[countable]APT a story that is written to be performed by actors, especially in a theatre:
a play by Chekhov
Eliot wrote plays as well as poetry.
play about
Edward Bond's play about class war
put on/perform a play
The children put on a play adapted from a Russian folk tale.


[uncountable] things that people, especially children, do for amusement rather than as work:
Play is very important to a child's development.
a play area
through play
The program aims to teach road safety through play.
at play
the happy shouts of children at play


[uncountable] the effect or influence of something:
the free play of competition in the building industry
at play
There are a number of factors at play (=having an effect) in the current recession.
bring/put something into play (=use something or make it have an effect)
A complex system of muscles is brought into play for each body movement.
Political considerations do come into play (=have an effect) when making policy.

action in a game or sport

a) [uncountable] the actions of the people who are playing a game or sport:
Rain stopped play after only an hour.
b) [countable] one particular action or set of actions during a game:
On the next play, Johnson ran fifteen yards for a touchdown.

in play/out of play

DS if a ball is in play or out of play, it is inside or outside the area in which the rules of the game allow you to hit, kick, catch etc the ball:
He kicked the ball out of play.

play on words

a use of a word that is interesting or amusing because it can be understood as having two very different meanings [= pun]

play of light

patterns made by light as it moves over a surface:
the play of light on the water

make a play for something

to make an attempt to gain something:
He made a play for the leadership last year.

make a play for somebody

to try to begin a romantic or sexual relationship with someone:
It's obvious he was making a play for her.


[uncountable] if there is some play in something, it is loose and can be moved:
There's too much play in the rope.

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