Synonyms of play in English:



  • 1 the children were playing with toys on the floor
    amuse oneself, entertain oneself, enjoy oneself, have fun, have a good time, relax, rest, be at leisure, occupy oneself, divert oneself, play games, frolic, frisk, gambol, romp, cavort, caper
    informal mess about/around, lark (about/around)
    dated sport
    archaic or humorous disport oneself
  • 2 I used to play football
    take part in, participate in, engage in, be involved in, join in, compete in, do
  • 3 Liverpool play Sheffield United on Wednesday
    compete against, contend against, oppose, take on, challenge, vie with, rival
  • 4 he was about to play Macbeth
    act the part of, play the part of, act, take the role of, enact, represent, perform, appear as, portray, depict, impersonate, pretend to be, execute, render, interpret
    rare personate
  • 5 he never learned to play a musical instrument
    perform on, make music on; blow, sound, strum
  • 6 his hair gleamed as the sunlight played on it
    move lightly, dance, flit, dart, ripple, lick, touch
  • Phrases

    play around

    informal I played around a bit but now I've settled downwomanizephilanderhave affairs/an affairflirtdallytrifle/toy with someone's affections informalcarry onmess about/aroundplay the fieldplay awaysleep aroundswingbe a man-eaterNorth American informalfool around vulgar slangscrew around rarecoquet

    play at

    like a dictator he will play at being kind and goodpretend to begive the appearance ofassume/affect the role ofpass oneself off asmasquerade asprofess to bepose asimpersonatemake outfakefeignsimulateaffectgo through the motions ofNorth American informalmake like

    play ball

    informal if you play ball, I can help youcooperatecollaborateplay alongplay the gamego along with the planshow willingbe willinghelplend a handassistbe of assistancecontributereciprocaterespond informalpitch in

    play something down

    ministers sought to play down the extent of the damage
    [Antonyms] exaggerate
    make light ofmake little/nothing ofset little/no store bygloss overde-emphasizeunderemphasizedownplayunderstateunderplayminimizeshrug offsoft-pedaltone downdiminishdowngradetrivializedetract fromunderrateunderestimateundervaluethink little ofdisparagedecrydeprecatetalk downbelittleslightscoff atsneer at informalpooh-pooh rarederogate

    play for time

    use delaying tacticsstalltemporizegain timehang backhang firehold backprocrastinatebeat about the bushdrag one's feetdelayfilibusterstonewall

    play havoc with

    dust will play havoc with electrical systemsdisturbdisruptdisorderdisorganizedisarrangeinterfere withupsetunsettleconvulseobstructimpedehamperhold updelayretardslow (down)throw into confusionthrow into disorderthrow into disarraycause confusion/turmoil inderangeturn upside-downmake a mess ofruinwreckspoilundomarfrustrateblightcrushquellquashdashscotchshatterdevastatedemolishsabotage informalmess upscrew uplouse upfoul upmake a hash ofdo input paid toput the lid onput the kibosh onstymiequeernixbanjaxblow a hole inBritish informalscupperdishthrow a spanner in the works ofNorth American informalthrow a monkey wrench in the works ofAustralian informaleuchrecruel

    play it by ear

    improviseextemporizerise to the occasionad libtake it as it comesLatinad libitum informalbusk itwing it

    play on

    it is despicable to play on the fears of ordinary peopleexploittake advantage ofusemake use ofturn to (one's) accountprofit bycapitalize onimpose ontrade onmilkabusemisuse informalwalk all over

    play out

  • 1 the position of the sub-tropical jet stream across North America will determine how winter plays out
    turn out, work out, conclude, end (up), result, come out, fall out, develop, evolve
  • 2 this scenario plays out all across the country
    happen, occur, take place, come about, come to pass, crop up, turn up, arise, chance, ensue, befall, be realized, take shape, transpire
    rare eventuate
  • play something out

    the simmering tension between them is played out against the sweep of world eventsportrayrepresentdepictcharacterizedescribepresentenactperformrenderactstageexpressgive expression tocommunicateset fortharticulate

    played out

    the melodrama is a little played out to be entirely satisfyingstalehackneyedwell-wornclichédstocktritebanalworn outtime-wornthreadbarehoarytiredoverusedobsoleteantiquatedfinishedold informalclapped outold hathacky

    play a part in

    historical events have also played a part in directing these efforts
    [Antonyms] stand in the way of
    contribute tobe instrumental inbe a factor inbe partly responsible forhave a hand inbe conducive tomake forlead tocausegive rise tohelppromoteadvancefurtherforwardoil the wheels ofopen the door foradd to formalconduce to

    play the fool

    clown about/aroundact the clownact the foolfool about/aroundmess about/aroundmonkey about/aroundfootle about/aroundjokeplay pranksindulge in horseplay informalhorse about/aroundscrew aroundpuddle about/aroundact the goatlark about/aroundBritish informalmuck about/aroundfanny about/aroundBritish vulgar slangpiss about/aroundarse about/around datedplay the giddy goat

    play the game

    I don't trust them—they don't always play the gameplay fairbe fairplay by the rulesabide by the rulesfollow the rulesconformbe a good sporttoe the linekeep in step

    play up

  • 1 there were some boys that really did play up
    misbehave, be misbehaved, behave badly, be bad, be naughty, be mischievous, get up to mischief, be disobedient, be awkward, give/cause/make trouble
    British informal be stroppy, be bolshie
  • 2British informal the boiler's playing up again
    not work properly, be defective, be faulty, malfunction, act up, give trouble
    informal be/go on the blink
  • 3British informal his injured leg was playing up
    be painful, hurt, ache, be sore, cause pain, cause discomfort, cause trouble, annoy
    informal kill someone, give someone gyp
  • play something up

    the press has played up the problemsemphasizeput/lay emphasis onaccentuatebring/draw/call attention tofocus attention onpoint upunderlineunderscorehighlightspotlightforegroundfeaturegive prominence tobring to the foreheightenstressaccent

    play up to

    he's been playing up to her the whole timeingratiate oneself withseek the favour oftry to get on the good side ofcurry favour withcourtfawn on/overmake up tokeep someone sweettoady tocrawl togrovel topander tobe obsequious towardstruckle toflatter informalsoft-soapsuck up tobutter upbe all overlick someone's bootsNorth American informalbrown-nose vulgar slanglick/kiss someone's arse


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  • 1 one must strike a balance between work and play
    [Antonyms] work
  • 2 a play by Shakespeare
    drama, stage play, stage show, theatrical work, theatrical piece, radio play, television play, teleplay, screenplay, comedy, tragedy, farce, sketch; production, performance, spectacle, show
  • 3 they have understood the play of the real world
    action, activity, operation, movement, motion, agency, employment, working, function, functioning, exercise, interaction, interplay
  • 4 the steering rack was loose, and there was a little play
    movement, freedom of movement, free motion, slack, give; room to manoeuvre, room to operate, scope, latitude, elbow room, space, margin
  • 5 we enable people to give full play to their energy and abilities
    scope, range, latitude, liberty, licence, freedom, indulgence, free rein, release
  • Phrases

    bring into play

    all of these factors are brought into play in the strategic planning processuseemployexercisemake use ofutilizeavail oneself ofput to usepractiseapplybring to bearimplementexertwield

    play on words

    its very title turns out to be a play on wordspunwordplaydouble entendredouble meaninginnuendowitticismquipquibble rareparonomasiaequivoqueamphibologypivotcalembourcarriwitchetclenchclinchconundrumnickpundigrionwhim

    Definition of play in:

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    Word of the day hypnopompic
    Pronunciation: ˌhɪpnə(ʊ)ˈpɒmpɪk
    relating to the state immediately preceding waking up