English [ edit ]
Etymology [ edit ]
Middle English , playen , pleyen , pleȝen , also plæien Middle English , plaȝen plawen ( > English plaw ), from Old English , pleġan , pleoġan , and plæġan Old English , pleġian , pleaġian ( plagian “ to play, move about sportively, frolic, dance; move rapidly; divert or amuse oneself, occupy or busy oneself; play a game, sport with, exercise, exercise one’s self in any way for the sake of amusement; play with; play with a person, toy; strive after; play on an instrument; contend, fight; clap the hands, applaud; make sport of, mock; cohabit (with) ”), from Proto-Germanic , *pleganą ( *plehaną “ to care about, be concerned with ”) and Proto-Germanic ( *plegōną “ to engage, move ”); both perhaps from Proto-Indo-European ( *blek- “ to move, move about ”), from Proto-Indo-European (compare Ancient Greek *bal- ( βλύω bluō), ( βλύζω bluzō, “ I gush out, spring ”), Sanskrit ( बल्बलीति balbalīti, “ it whirls, twirls ”)). Cognate with Scots ( play “ to act or move briskly, cause to move, stir ”), Saterland Frisian ( plegia “ to look after, care for, maintain ”), West Frisian , pleegje ( pliigje “ to commit, perform, bedrive ”), Middle Dutch pleyen ( "to dance, leap for joy, rejoice, be glad"; > Modern Dutch ( pleien “ to play a particular children's game ”) ), Dutch ( plegen “ to commit, bedrive, practice ”), German ( pflegen “ to care for, be concerned with, attend to, tend ”), Danish ( pleie “ to tend to, nurse ”), Swedish ( pläga “ to be wont to, be accustomed to ”). Related also to Old English ( plēon “ to risk, endanger ”). More at , plight . pledge
The noun is from
Middle English , from pleye Old English , plæġ , pleġa ( plæġa “ play, quick motion, movement, exercise; (athletic) sport, game; festivity, drama; battle; gear for games, an implement for a game; clapping with the hands, applause ”), deverbative of ( pleġian “ to play ”); see above.
Pronunciation [ edit ]
play ( third-person singular simple present , plays present participle , playing simple past and past participle ) played
( 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, page 83:
...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, page 52:
We had to play for an hour, so that meant that we didn't have time to
play and joke around.
They played long and hard.
( intransitive ) To take part in amorous activity; to make love, fornicate; to have sex.
( intransitive ) To perform in a sport.
he plays on three teams; who's playing now?
( transitive ) To participate in the game indicated.
play football; play sports; play games
( transitive ) To compete against, in a game
2011 November 12, “ International friendly: England 1-0 Spain”, BBC Sport:
England will not be catapulted among the favourites for Euro 2012 as a result of this win, but no victory against Spain is earned easily and it is right they take great heart from their efforts as they now prepare to play Sweden at Wembley on Tuesday.
( transitive ) To act as the indicated role, especially in a performance.
He plays the King, and she's the Queen.
No part of the brain plays the role of permanent memory.
( intransitive ) To produce music using a musical instrument.
I've practiced the piano off and on, and I still can't play very well.
( transitive , ergative ) To produce music on the indicated musical instrument.
I'll play the piano and you sing; can you play an instrument?
( transitive , ergative ) 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
( transitive , ergative ) To use a device to watch or listen to the indicated recording.
You can play the DVD now.
( copulative ) Contrary to fact, to give an appearance of being.
(Can we Sir date this quote?) Walter Scott
play the rational if thou wilt.
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
played dumb, remained silent, and did their classwork.
( intransitive ) To act with levity or thoughtlessness; to trifle; to be careless.
(Can we Sir date this quote?) W. Temple
Men are apt to
play with their healths.
( intransitive ) To act; to behave; to practice deception.
(Can we date this quote?) Shakespeare
played false with a smith.
( intransitive ) To move in any manner; especially, to move regularly with alternate or reciprocating motion; to operate.
The fountain plays.
(Can we date this quote?) Cheyne
The heart beats, the blood circulates, the lungs
( intransitive ) To move gaily; to disport.
(Can we date this quote?) Shakespeare
even as the waving sedges
play with wind
(Can we date this quote?) Addison
The setting sun /
Plays on their shining arms and burnished helmets.
(Can we date this quote?) Alexander Pope
All fame is foreign but of true desert, /
Plays round the head, but comes not to the heart.
( transitive ) To put in action or motion.
to play cannon upon a fortification
to play a trump in a card game
( transitive ) To bring into sportive or wanton action; to exhibit in action; to execute.
to play tricks
(Can we date this quote?) John Milton
Nature here / Wantoned as in her prime, and
played at will / Her virgin fancies.
( transitive ) To act or perform (a play).
to play a comedy
( transitive ) To keep in play, as a hooked fish, in order to land it.
Translations [ edit ]
act in a manner such that one has fun
produce music using a musical instrument (transitive sense), affecting a noun
( عَزَفَ 3ázafa) Armenian:
( նվագել nvagel) Catalan:
tocar (ca) Chinese:
演奏 ( (zh) yǎnzòu), ( string instruments including piano ) 彈 , (zh) 弹 ( (zh) tán)& ( formal ) , 彈奏 弹奏 ( (zh) tánzòu), ( string instruments with a bow such as violin ) 拉 ( (zh) lā), ( wind instruments ) 吹 ( (zh) chuī)& ( formal ) 吹奏 ( (zh) chuīzòu), ( percussion instruments, especially gong ) 敲 ( (zh) qiāo), ( percussion instruments, especially drum ) 打 ( (zh) dǎ) Dutch:
spelen , (nl) bespelen (nl) Finnish:
soittaa (fi) French:
jouer de (fr) Galician:
tocar (gl) Georgian:
( უკრავს ukravs) German:
spielen (de) Greek:
παίζω ( (el) paízo) Hebrew:
( ניגן (ב־) nigén (b'-)) Hindi:
( बजाना bajānā) Hungarian:
játszik (hu) ( noun specifying instrument in superessive case ) Icelandic:
, spila spila á Irish:
suonare (it) Japanese:
( 演奏する えんそうする, ensō-suru), ( 奏でる かなでる, kanaderu) ( string instruments including piano ) 弾く ( (ja) ひく, hiku), ( wind instruments ) ( 吹く ふく, fuku), ( drums ) 叩く ( (ja) たたく, tataku)
produce music using a musical instrument (intransitive sense, not affecting a noun)
deal with a situation in a diplomatic manner
participate in (a sport or game)
لَعِبَ ( (ar) laʕiba) Armenian:
( խաղալ xałal) Burmese:
ကစား ( (my) ka.ja:) Catalan:
, participar jugar Chinese:
, 參與 参与 ( (zh) cān yù), , 參加 参加 ( (zh) cān jiā), ( games ) 玩 ( (zh) wán), ( sports with pedal hitting, such as football ) 踢 ( (zh) tī), ( sports with manual hitting, such as basketball and badminton ) 打 ( (zh) dǎ), ( sports with throwing, such as discus throw ) 擲 , (zh) 掷 ( (zh) zhì)& ( colloquial&informal ) 扔 ( (zh) rēng), ( sports with pushing, such as shot put ) 推 ( (zh) tuī), ( sports with running, such as marathon ) 跑 ( (zh) pǎo) Czech:
hrát (cs) Dutch:
spelen , (nl) meespelen (nl) Finnish:
French: jouer à Galician:
spielen (de) Greek:
παίζω ( (el) paízo) Hungarian:
játszik (hu) Icelandic:
, spila leika (is)
use a device to hear (a recording)
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.
Translations to be checked
play ( , countable and uncountable plural ) plays
( uncountable ) Activity for amusement only, especially among the young.
( uncountable ) Similar activity, in young animals, as they explore their environment and learn new skills.
( uncountable , ethology ) "Repeated, incompletely functional behavior differing from more serious versions ..., and initiated voluntarily when ... in a low-stress setting." The conduct, or course of a game.
( countable ) An individual's performance in a sport or game.
( countable ) ( turn-based games) An action carried out when it is one's turn to play.
( countable ) A literary composition, intended to be represented by actors impersonating the characters and speaking the dialogue.
( countable ) A theatrical performance featuring actors.
We saw a two-act play in the theatre.
( countable ) A major move by a business.
( countable ) A geological formation that contains an accumulation or prospect of hydrocarbons or other resources.
( uncountable ) The extent to which a part of a mechanism can move freely.
No wonder the fanbelt is slipping: there’s too much play in it.
Too much play in a steering wheel may be dangerous.
( uncountable , informal ) Sexual role-playing.
1996, Sabrina P Ramet, Gender reversals and gender cultures
The rarity of male domination in fantasy
play is readily explained.
1996, "toptigger", (on Internet newsgroup alt.personals.spanking.punishment)
Palm Springs M seeks sane F 4 safe bdsm
( countable ) A button that, when pressed, causes media to be played.
Synonyms [ edit ]
Translations [ edit ]
American Sign Language:
A@Left1Chesthigh-A@Right1Chesthigh Upanddown Arabic:
مسرح ( m másraH), مسرحية ( f masraHíyya) Armenian:
( ներկայացում nerkayacʿum) Catalan:
obra f Chinese:
, 戲劇 戏剧 ( (zh) xìjù), , 話劇 话剧 ( (zh) huàjù) Czech:
hra (cs) f Danish:
, stykke spil Dutch:
optreden (nl) , n schouwspel (nl) , n toneelstuk (nl) , n stuk (nl) n Esperanto:
näytelmä (fi) French:
pièce de théâtre (fr) f German:
Schauspiel (de) n Hebrew:
משחק (he) ( m misḥāq) Hungarian:
színdarab , (hu) darab (hu) Indonesian:
pentas (id) Irish:
dráma m Italian:
dramma (it) m Japanese:
演劇 ( (ja) えんげき, engeki) Korean:
연극 ( (ko) yeon-geuk)
individual's performance in a sport
area of free movement for a part of a mechanism
action carried out when it is one's turn to play
Derived terms [ edit ]
Terms derived from the noun or verb
See also [ edit ]
Statistics [ edit ]
Italian [ edit ]
Etymology [ edit ]
play ( m invariable)
play (theatrical performance; start key)
Interjection [ edit ]
used to start a game of Tennis