› 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.