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American English: /pleɪ/
British English: /pleɪ/

Translation of play in Spanish:


  • 1 1.1 uncountable (recreation) they learn through play
    aprenden jugando or a través del juego
    she watched them at play
    los observaba mientras jugaban
    to make great play of something
    poner gran énfasis en algo
    Example sentences
    • The children introduced themselves through song and words and we watched them at play.
    • There's a pause in the game, and the TV begins showing cute little kittens at play.
    • While at play, toddlers and young children are usually in the care of older siblings.
    1.2 uncountable (Sport) play was interrupted
    se interrumpió el juego or el partido
    the ball is out of play
    la pelota está fuera de juego
    to bring something/come into play
    poner algo/entrar en juego
    Example sentences
    • He walks off the pitch to get treatment, Nigeria kick the ball out of play so he can come back on.
    • Prop Howard Carr kicked a penalty into touch and the ball bounced back into play after hitting a tree.
    • The ball goes out of play and he gets to his feet with the air about him of a man who'd settle for a corner.
    Example sentences
    • But Woodson is getting more chances to make big plays in the passing game this season.
    • He is strong enough to play off blocks and make plays in the running game and agile enough to be an asset in coverage.
    • At moments in a game great plays are needed, no matter what the defense, and the superstar shifts gears.
    1.3 countable (turn, move) it's your play now
    te toca (a ti)
    1.4 countable (US) (Sport) (maneuver) to make a play for somebody/something (also British)he made a play for her
    trató de ganársela or de conquistársela
    the company made a play for ownership of ABC Industries
    la compañía intentó hacerse con ABC Industries
  • 2 uncountable (interplay) the play of light and shadow
    el juego de luces y sombras
    Example sentences
    • It also recognises the fact that the free play of markets creates problems for society.
  • 3 uncountable (slack) (Technology) there's not enough play in the schedule
    el plan de trabajo es demasiado apretado or no deja ningún margen
    to give something full play
    Example sentences
    • The action is smooth, the cylinder locks up tightly with very little play, and the trigger pull is light and crisp.
    • Since then there's been a lot of play in the steering.
  • 5 countable (pun) a play on words
    un juego de palabras

transitive verb

  • 1 1.1
    jugar a
    let's play house
    vamos a jugar a las madres or a las visitas
    to play a joke/trick on somebody
    hacerle or gastarle una broma/una jugarreta a alguien
    Example sentences
    • I used to play netball when I was a teenager, but was never very good at it.
    • Another new initiative was launched this week to get more children playing sport.
    • He enjoyed many sports, and played table tennis for Manchester and tennis for Manchester University.
    jugar (Latin America excluding Río de la Plata)
    jugar a (Spain) (Río de la Plata)
    she plays tennis
    juega tenis
    juega al tenis (Spain) (Río de la Plata)
    Example sentences
    • Omagh were forced to play three championship matches in eight days in October.
    • Yet it was difficult not to feel sorry for Latvia, playing their first match in a major tournament.
    • In the end the match was played amid a torrential downpour, plus thunder and lightning.
  • 2 2.1 (compete against)
    jugar contra
    we're playing them in the finals
    en la final jugamos contra ellos
    to play somebody at somethingI used to play her at chess
    jugaba ajedrez con ella
    jugaba al ajedrez con ella (Spain) (Río de la Plata)
    Example sentences
    • In the Test matches, we are playing the second-ranked team in the world so that's very difficult in itself.
    • It is never easy playing a team that is fighting relegation and has had two bad results on the spin.
    • We may just get a bit tense, and that comes down to inexperience, playing the best team in the world.
    Example sentences
    • Steven Gerrard plays a long ball from left to right, which Luis Garcia fails to control properly and immediately gives away.
    • Trezeguet is caught marginally offside as Henry plays the ball through to him.
    • Emre plays a cross-field ball from left to right.
    Example sentences
    • Somebody always has to play the role of banker as well as playing their own piece.
    • If you expose the queen of spades, then the first time that someone leads a spade you are not allowed to play the queen if you have other spades.
    • If you have the Ace of trump, you are guaranteed to win the trick you play that in.
    2.3 (in particular position)
    (inside left/quarterback)
    jugar de
    which position are you playing?
    ¿en qué posición juegas?
    ¿de qué juegas?
    Example sentences
    • Now, because they have seen how I play for the national team, they have a new respect for British football.
    • It obviously did the trick, because I became a regular in the first team and went on to play for England.
    • The ultimate goal is to play for Scotland, but there are lots of things before that.
    Example sentences
    • Whether England manager Clive Woodward plays him at full-back, on the wing or even at centre on Saturday, he is a certain starter.
    • Woodward, desperate to get the best out of him, has played him in four positions.
    • He was played in the wrong position and did not do too well, but as soon as he moved up front he has got better and better.
    2.4 (use in game)
    sacar a jugar
  • 3 (gamble on)
    jugar a
    to play the horses/dogs [colloquial]
    jugar a los caballos/galgos
    to play the market (Finance)
    Example sentences
    • Another important factor in playing the lottery is to play within your means.
    • I don't play the lotto and I avoid gambling at all costs.
    • The money people spend playing the lottery keeps some of these taxes from going up.
  • 4 4.1
    to play the piano/the clarinet
    tocar el piano/el clarinete
    Example sentences
    • While Natalie was calling my mom, I heard someone start playing the drums really loud.
    • She was greatly impressed when she heard Len playing his guitar, and even more impressed with how he could play the piano.
    • As a teenager he played guitar and harmonica with local bands and skiffle and rock ‘n’ roll groups.
    Example sentences
    • Too much emphasis is placed on solitary activities such as playing video games or watching television.
    • As such, the games were quite fun to play, despite their rather basic gameplay.
    • They also played board games like checkers, chess, and dominoes.
    Example sentences
    • The concertmaster played a note on his violin and Lev tuned his instrument to it.
    • Inconspicuously, a three piece ensemble plays background music.
    • The best pieces of American Jazz music will be played and performed on stage.
  • 5 (Theatre) 5.1
    representar el papel de
    hacer de
    actuar de
    don't play the clown!
    ¡no (te) hagas el payaso!
    ¡no hagas payasadas!
    don't play the innocent with me!
    ¡no te me hagas el inocente!
    Example sentences
    • In my next film I'm playing a really intense character and I'm nervous.
    • Laurence Olivier plays Lord Nelson, and Vivien Leigh is Emma, Lady Hamilton, who becomes his lover.
    • He plays characters his age and doesn't try to pretend he's 20 years younger than he actually is.
    Example sentences
    • A cynic would say that people enjoy playing the victim and jumping on the grief bandwagon, they enjoy the attention and the sympathy.
    • As a young girl, Cora had always enjoyed playing the nurse for her brother or her cousins.
    • She stood in the corner playing the shy bride in her long red bridal dress.
    to play it cool
    hacer como si nada
    to play (it) dumb to play (it) safe
    ir a la segura
    no arriesgarse
    to play (it) smart
    ser listo
    to play (it) straight
    ser sincero or honesto
    (Literature, Theatre)
    representar el papel sin artificios
    actuar con naturalidad
    Example sentences
    • In The Silver Fleet, she plays opposite another star of the London stage, Ralph Richardson.
    • He has also played in Irish language productions at the Abbey Theatre.
    • Taylor might as well have been playing opposite a wooden Indian for all the response she got from him.
    Example sentences
    • The Rolling Stones played their debut concert at the Marquee club in London in 1962.
    • Not only is he alive, but he's healthy, just short of 60 and still playing packed-out concerts.
    • Jools Holland is playing an open-air concert near Tunbridge Wells soon.
    actuar en
    Example sentences
    • Reynolds plays the Green Room Sunday night and the Railway Club on Wednesday.
    • He was sheer magic at Garter Lane on his previous visit and should not be missed when he plays the Theatre Royal.
    • The brilliant Backbeat Beatles play the Pavilion Theatre in Bournemouth on Monday.
  • 6 (Audio)
    they only play classical music (on radio)
    solo tocan or pasan música clásica
    Example sentences
    • And a third of adults use digital, satellite and cable TV to play the new radio stations.
    • By 9 pm, I had watched a dvd and played some records, and I was ready for something else.
    • Write in to any radio stations you know of and demand that they play this record.
  • 7 (treat) [literary]to play somebody fair
    tratar bien a alguien
    to play somebody false
    engañar a alguien
    Example sentences
    • She plays him for a fool, often feigning helplessness just to see what lengths he will go to in order to prove his love for her.
    • A councillor has accused a brewery of playing Bexley Council for a mug over a pub's opening hours.
    • Are you just playing Rob for a sucker, Amber?
    Example sentences
    • The garden was beautiful, plants and shrubs tumbling around a vibrant lawn in the centre of which a fountain tinkled and played.
    • In the centre of the lush garden, an elaborate marble fountain played, spraying sparkling jewels of water into the air.
    • The lawns are mown, the box hedge parterres are neatly clipped and the central fountain plays gently in the sunshine.
  • 8 (move) (+ adverb complement) to play the spotlight over the stage
    recorrer el escenario con el reflector
    they played the hoses over the blaze
    movían las mangueras sobre las llamas
    Example sentences
    • Pulling the door shut behind her, she leaned against it, a light smile playing across her lips.
    • His soft babyish snores caused her heart to melt and a light smile played upon her lips.
    • Underneath the floppy hair and the trademark goatee, there is a smile playing on his lips, a twinkle in his eye.
  • 9 (in angling) (Sport)
    Example sentences
    • We spotted that the boat nearest to us had an angler playing a fish and that same fish leapt right in front of our path.
    • Holding the rod high whilst playing a fish is often a recipe for disaster, especially when the fish is close to the boat.
    • Remember the whole rod should be used in playing the fish.

intransitive verb

  • 1 (amuse oneself)
    we tried to persuade him but he wouldn't play [colloquial]
    tratamos de convencerlo pero no quiso saber nada
    to play at something
    jugar a algo
    they were playing at cops and robbers
    estaban jugando a ladrones y policías
    what are you playing at?
    ¿a qué estás jugando?
    ¿qué es lo que te propones?
    to play with somebody/something
    jugar con alguien/algo
    she played with her toys/friends
    jugaba con sus juguetes/amigos
    I played with the idea
    lo pensé
    le di vueltas a la idea
    I feel you're just playing with me
    me parece que solo estás jugando conmigo or que te estás burlando de mí
    to play with words
    jugar con las palabras
    we don't have much time/money to play with
    no disponemos de mucho tiempo/de mucho dinero
    to play with oneself [euphemistic]
    toquetearse [euphemistic]
    to play fast and loose with somebody/something
    jugar con alguien/algo
    Example sentences
    • Do you know who your children are playing with or where they are playing?
    • Let her use up her energy by playing outside every day and enjoying other lively activities.
    • Last week Cromane Beach was a hive of activity with children playing, swimming and enjoying picnics.
    Example sentences
    • My children don't play with guns, but at lunchtime some were playing at shooting each other.
    • As a child, she had played at being a gun-toting cowgirl.
    • It is like little boys and girls playing doctors and nurses.
  • 2 (Games, Sport) play!
    ¡que empiece el juego!
    to play for money
    jugar por dinero
    whose turn is it to play?
    ¿a quién le toca (jugar)?
    the court is playing well today
    la cancha está en buenas condiciones hoy
    to play fair to play fair with somebody
    ser justo con alguien
    to play straight with somebody
    ser sincero con alguien
  • 3 3.1 (Theatre)
    ser representado
    the musical has been playing to packed houses
    el musical ha estado llenando las salas
    3.2 (pretend) to play dead to play hard to get
    hacerse el ( or la etc. ) interesante
  • 4 (Music)
    he's going to play for us
    nos va a tocar algo
    there was military music playing all day (on radio)
    tocaron or pasaron música militar todo el día
    Example sentences
    • We then walked in silence to the studio, where the last record was still playing.
    • He leaves the front door slightly ajar to hear the early Dylan and Stones records playing from inside.
    • He pauses to savour the Kylie Minogue song playing over the bar sound system.
  • 5 (move) lights played across the night sky
    un juego de luces recorrió el cielo nocturno
    a smile played about his lips
    un atisbo de sonrisa rondaba sus labios

Phrasal verbs

play about

verb + adverb (British)
juguetear [colloquial] [derogatory]

play along

1verb + adverb (cooperate) I refuse to play along with him/his schemes
me niego a hacerle el juego/a tener nada que ver con sus enjuagues [colloquial]
2verb + object + adverb (deceive, manipulate)

play around

verb + adverb
juguetear [colloquial] [derogatory]
I haven't got time to play around
no tengo tiempo para andar con jueguitos [colloquial]
I don't want them playing around with my stereo
no quiero que anden (jugando) con mi estéreo [colloquial]
he's playing around with other women
anda con otras [colloquial]
tiene líos con otras [colloquial]

play back

verb + object + adverb, verb + adverb + object
poner (una grabación)

play down

verb + object + adverb, verb + adverb + object
quitarle or restarle importancia a
they tried to play down the seriousness of the situation
intentaron quitarle or restarle importancia a la gravedad de la situación
intentaron minimizar la gravedad de la situación

play in

verb + object + adverb, verb + adverb + object
the guests were played in by the band
los invitados hicieron su entrada al son de la música de la banda

play off

1verb + object + adverb to play somebody off against somebodyshe plays her parents off against each other
hace pelear a sus padres para lograr sus propósitos
2verb + adverb
jugar el desempate
the two teams will play off to decide who's promoted
los dos equipos jugarán la promoción

play on

verb + adverb + object
aprovecharse de
jugar con
3 (disturb)

play out

verb + object + adverb, verb + adverb + object
1 (enact) (usually passive) 2 (finish) to play out time (Sport) 3 (Music)
despedir (con música)

play up

1verb + adverb (British) 1.1 (cause trouble) [colloquial] (child)
dar guerra [colloquial]
portarse mal
the car is playing up
el coche anda mal
el coche está haciendo de las suyas [colloquial]
my back has been playing up
la espalda me ha estado fastidiando
la espalda me ha estado dando la lata [colloquial]
1.2 (flatter)to play up to somebody
halagar a alguien
darle coba a alguien (Spain) [colloquial]
2verb + object + adverb (cause trouble) (British) [colloquial]
darle guerra a [colloquial]
my shoulder's playing me up
el hombro me está fastidiando
el hombro me está dando la lata [colloquial]
3verb + object + adverb, verb + adverb + object (exaggerate)

play upon

play on
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