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English definition of “play”

play

verb  /pleɪ/ us  

play verb (ENJOY)

[I] to spend time doing something enjoyable or amusing: The children spent the afternoon playing.

play verb (COMPETE)

[I/T] to take part in a game or other organized activity: [T] He loves playing football. [I] What team does she play for? [I/T] If you play a person or team, you compete against them: [T] We’re going to the stadium to see New York play Chicago. [I/T] If you play the ball or a shot, you hit or kick the ball: [T] In golf, you have to take time to decide how to play difficult shots. [I/T] In a card game, to play a card is to choose it from the ones you are holding and put it down on the table.

play verb (ACT)

to perform as a character in a play or movie, or (of a performance) to be shown: [T] She played the part of a beautiful and brilliant scientist. [I] What’s playing at (= being shown at) the local movie theaters? To play is also to behave or pretend in a particular way, esp. to produce an effect or result: [L] Don’t play dumb with me (= pretend you don’t know anything) – you know very well what happened! To play can mean to influence or have an effect on: [T] The president denied that politics played any part in his decision to appoint a woman to the Supreme Court. play a joke on someone (also play a trick on someone) To play a joke on someone or play a trick on someone is to deceive someone for amusement or in order to get an advantage: She loves to play jokes on her friends.

play verb (PRODUCE SOUNDS/PICTURES)

[I/T] to perform music on an instrument, or to cause something that produces sound or a picture to operate: [I/T] She plays (the piano) beautifully. [T] I was just playing my stereo. I learned how toplay the guitar by ear (= by listening rather than by reading music).

play verb (RISK MONEY)

[T] to risk money, esp. on the results of races or business deals, hoping to win money: He plays the stock market.

play

noun  /pleɪ/ us  

play noun (ACT)

literature [C] a story that is intended to be acted out before people who have come to see it: She starred in many Broadway plays in her career.

play noun (COMPETE)

in play (also out of play) If a ball or something else is in play, it is in a position where it can be used as part of the regular action in a game or sport, and if it is out of play, it is not in such a position: [U] She put the ball in play in midfield. In sports, a play can also be a particular action or a plan for a specific set of actions: [C] The school football team has been practicing new plays all week.
(Definition of play from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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