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Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.
Guillaume Apollinaire
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Etymology 1

Old English pleġa, plæġa




play ({{{1}}})
  1. Activity for amusement only, especially among the young.
  2. A literary composition, intended to be represented by actors impersonating the characters and speaking the dialogue.
  3. A theatrical performance featuring actors.
  4. An individual's performance in a sport.
  5. A major move by a business.
  6. A geological formation that contains an accumulation or prospect of hydrocarbons or other resources.
  7. An area of free movement for a part of a mechanism. such as the amount of slackness in a drive chain.
    No wonder the fanbelt is slipping: there’s too much play in it.
    Too much play in a steering wheel may be dangerous.
  8. (turn-based games) An action carried out when it is one's turn to play.
  • (literary composition): drama

Etymology 2

Old English pleġian.


to play

Third person singular

Simple past

Past participle

Present participle

to play (third-person singular simple present -, present participle -, simple past and past participle -)
  1. (intransitive): To act in a manner such that one has fun; to engage in activities expressly for the purpose of recreation.
    • 2001, Annabelle Sabloff, Reordering the Natural World, Univ. of Toronto Press, p. 83,
      A youngster...listed some of the things his pet did not do: ...go on vacation, play in the same way that he did with his friends, and so on.
    • 2003, Anne-Nelly Perret-Clermont et al. (eds.), Joining Society: Social Interaction and Learning in Adolescence and Youth, Cambridge Univ. Press, p. 52,
      We had to play for an hour, so that meant that we didn't have time to play and joke around.
  2. (intransitive) To play a sport.
    He plays on three teams.
    Who's playing now?
  3. (intransitive) To produce music using a musical instrument.
    I've practiced the piano off and on, and I still can't play very well.
  4. (Can we verify(+) this sense?) (intransitive) To deal with a situation in a diplomatic manner.
  5. (transitive) To act in a performance as the indicated role.
    He plays the King, and she's the Queen.
  6. (transitive) To participate in the game indicated.
    play football, play sports, play games
  7. (transitive, Template loop detected: Template:context 1) To produce music on the indicated musical instrument.
    I'll play the piano and you sing.
    Can you play an instrument?
  8. (transitive, Template loop detected: Template:context 1) To produce music, the indicated song or style, with a musical instrument.
    We especially like to play jazz together.
    Play a song for me.
    Do you know how to play Für Elise?
    My son thinks he can play music.
  9. (transitive, Template loop detected: Template:context 1) To use a device to watch or listen to the indicated recording.
    You can play the DVD now.
  10. (Template loop detected: Template:context 1) To act disingenuously in a particular manner.
    • 1985, Sharon S Brehm, Intimate Relationships
      Playing hard to get is not the same as slamming the door in someone's face.
    • 1996, Michael P Malone, James J Hill: Empire Builder of the Northwest
      Now, surveying his final link, he had the nice advantage of being able to play coy with established port cities that desperately wanted his proven railroad.
    • 2003, John U. Ogbu, Black American Students in an Affluent Suburb: A Study of Academic Disengagement, page 194
      Instead, they played dumb, remained silent, and did their classwork.
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Derived terms

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