play up

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play up (third-person singular simple present plays up, present participle playing up, simple past and past participle played up)

  1. (Britain, idiomatic) To misbehave.
    Children who do not receive enough attention may begin to play up.
    The radar system is playing up again.
  2. (transitive) To make or attempt to make something appear more important, likely or obvious; to showcase or highlight.
    For the audition, Nicole will play up her skill as a pianist by playing Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring by Bach.
  3. (intransitive) To play more vigorously.
    • (Can we date this quote by Henry Newbolt and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?), Vitai Lampada
      And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
      Or the selfish hope of a season's fame,
      But his Captain's hand on his shoulder smote —
      'Play up! play up! and play the game!'
  4. (transitive, slang) To be unfaithful to a lover; to cheat; used with on.
    • 1997, Melissa Lucashenko, Steam Pigs (page 176)
      [] the young fulla Jack'd brought along looked like he might suit in an emergency, and what the fuck, Jack'd already said she weren't interested. Serve Rog right if she played up on him.
    • 2013, Ross W. Nielsen, The South American Coffee Shop Chronicles (page 123)
      'Would you ever play up on me given the chance?' asked Stacy.
      'Never, why?' asked William.
      [] 'Oh! Just when I was younger, I had a few guys take me out and when I didn't put out in the first week, it was the last I would see of them,' explained Stacy.