Share this entry


Synonyms of play in English:


  • 1 Aidan and Robert were playing with their toys
    amuse oneself, entertain oneself, enjoy oneself, have fun;
    relax, occupy oneself, divert oneself;
    frolic, frisk, romp, caper
    informalmess around
  • 2 I used to play hockey
    take part in, participate in, be involved in, compete in, do
  • 3 St. Joseph's plays Boston on Sunday
    compete against, take on, challenge, vie with, face, go up against
  • 4 he was to play Macbeth
    act (the part of), take the role of, appear as, portray, depict, impersonate, represent, render, perform, enact
  • 5 get your guitar and let's play
    perform, make music, jam
  • 6 Bryanna played a note on the flute
    make, produce, reproduce;
    blow, toot;
    plunk, bang out;
  • 7 the sunlight played on the water
    dance, flit, ripple, touch;
    sparkle, glint
  • noun

    Back to top  
  • 1 a balance between work and play
    horseplay, merrymaking, revelry
    informalliving it up
  • 2 a Shakespearean play
    drama, theatrical work;
    screenplay, comedy, tragedy;
    production, performance, show, sketch
  • 3 a new tool came into play
    action, activity, operation, working, function;
    interaction, interplay
  • 4 there is foul play afoot
    behavior, goings-on, activity, action, deed
  • 5 there was a little play in the rope
    movement, slack, give;
    room to maneuver, scope, latitude
  • Phrases

    play around

    informal he's been playing around for years
    womanize, philander, have affairs, flirt
    informalcarry on, mess around, play the field, sleep around, fool around

    play at being

    she just plays at being the caring one
    pretend to be, pass oneself off as, masquerade as, profess to be, pose as, impersonate;
    fake, feign, simulate, affect
    informalmake like

    play ball

    informal if you play ball, I can help you
    co-operate, collaborate, play the game, help, lend a hand, assist, contribute
    informalpitch in

    play down

    officials tried to play down the extent of the damage
    disparage, belittle, scoff at, sneer at, shrug off

    play for time

    all his opponents accused him of playing for time in order to pull an election-year coup
    stall, temporize, delay, hold back, hang fire, procrastinate, drag one's feet

    play it by ear

    when a guest doesn't show up for live radio, you learn quickly how to play it by ear
    informalwing it

    play on

    they play on our fears
    exploit, take advantage of, use, turn to (one's) account, profit by, capitalize on, trade on, milk, abuse

    play the fool

    by the time she was ten, Ronnie knew it was her God-given job to play the fool
    clown around, fool around, mess around, monkey around, joke
    informalhorse around

    play the game

    you find out early on who's willing to play the game, and that's the kind of person this company holds on to
    play fair, be fair, play by the rules, conform, be a good sport, toe the line

    play up

    his agents really play up the story of his rise from poverty

    play up to

    wannabes who play up to the boss
    ingratiate oneself with, curry favor with, court, fawn over, make up to, toady to, crawl to, pander to, flatter
    informalsoft-soap, suck up to, butter up, lick someone's boots

    Definition of play in:

    Share this entry


    What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

    Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

    Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

    Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources