play Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary
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Meaning of “play” in the English Dictionary

"play" in British English

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playverb

uk   us   /pleɪ/

play verb (ENJOY)

A1 [I] When you play, ​especially as a ​child, you ​spendtime doing an ​enjoyable and/or ​entertainingactivity: The ​childrenspent the ​afternoon playing withtheir new ​toys. My ​daughter used to play with the ​kids next ​door.
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play verb (GAME)

A1 [I or T] to take ​part in a ​game or other ​organizedactivity: Do you ​want to play ​cards/​football (with us)? Irene won't be ​able to play in the ​tennismatch on ​Saturday. Which ​team do you play for? Luke plays centre-forward (= plays in that ​position within the ​team).B1 [T] to ​compete against a ​person or ​team in a ​game: Who are the Giants playing next ​week? [T] to ​hit or ​kick a ​ball in a ​game: He played the ​ball back to the ​goalkeeper. A good ​poolplayertakestimedeciding which ​shot to play. [T] (in a ​cardgame) to ​choose a ​card from the ​ones you are ​holding and put it down on the ​table: She played the ​ace of ​spades.
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play verb (ACT)

B1 [I or T] to ​perform an ​entertainment or a ​particularcharacter in a play, ​film, etc.: Scottish Opera played tofullhouses every ​night. I didn't ​realize that "Macbeth" was playing (= being ​performed) at the ​festival. In the ​movieversion, Branagh played the ​hero. [T] to ​behave or ​pretend in a ​particular way, ​especially in ​order to ​produce a ​particulareffect or ​result: to play ​dead/​dumb Would you ​mind playing host (= ​entertaining the ​guests)?play a joke/trick B2 to ​deceive someone to make them ​laugh or in ​order to get an ​advantage over them: She ​loves playing ​practicaljokes on her ​friends.play a part B2 to ​help to ​achieve something: My ​thanks to everyone who has played a ​part insaving the ​hospital.
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play verb (PRODUCE SOUNDS/PICTURES)

A2 [I or T] to ​performmusic on an ​instrument or ​instruments: He ​learned to play the ​clarinet at the ​age of ten. [+ two objects] Play us a ​song!/Play a ​song for us! On Radio London they play ​African and ​South American ​music as well as ​rock and ​pop. They could ​hear a ​jazzband playing in the ​distance.A2 [I or T] to (​cause a ​machine to) ​producesound or a ​picture: Play the last few ​minutes of the ​video again.
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play verb (MOVE)

[I or T] to ​direct or be ​directed over or onto something: Firefighters played ​their hoses onto the ​base of the ​fire. A ​fountain was playing (= ​sending out ​water) in the ​courtyardoutside. [I + adv/prep] (of something you ​see, such as ​light) to ​movequickly or be ​seen for a ​shorttime: A ​smile played across/over/on his ​lips.

play verb (RISK MONEY)

[T] to ​riskmoney, ​especially on the ​results of ​races or ​business deals, ​hoping to ​win more ​money: He plays the ​horses/the ​stockmarket.

playnoun

uk   us   /pleɪ/

play noun (ACTING)

A2 [C] a ​piece of writing that is ​intended to be ​acted in a ​theatre or on ​radio or ​television: a ​radio play "Did you ​see the play (= the ​performance of the play) on ​Thursday?" "No, I went on ​Wednesdaynight."
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play noun (GAME)

[U] the ​activity of taking ​part in a ​sport or a ​game: Rain ​stopped play during the ​final of the National Tennis Championship. [C] US a ​plan or a ​small set of ​actions in a ​sport: The new ​pitcher made a ​great play on that ​throw to first ​base.in/out of play If a ​ball is in/out of play, it is/is not in a ​position where it can be ​hit, ​kicked, or ​thrown: The ​ball had gone out of play. She ​managed to ​keep the ​ball in play.
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play noun (ENJOYMENT)

B2 [U] activity that is not ​serious but done for ​enjoyment, ​especially when ​childrenenjoy themselves with ​toys and ​games: The ​kids don't get much ​time for play in the ​evenings. We ​watched the ​children at play in the ​park.

play noun (MOVEMENT)

[U] movement: the play of ​moonlight across the ​water the play of ​emotion across/on his ​face [U] the ​fact that a ​rope or a ​structure is ​free to ​move, ​especially a ​smalldistance: Aircraft ​wings are ​designed to have a ​certainamount of play in them.
(Definition of play from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"play" in American English

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playverb

 us   /pleɪ/

play verb (ENJOY)

[I] to ​spendtime doing something ​enjoyable or ​amusing: The ​childrenspent the ​afternoon playing.

play verb (COMPETE)

[I/T] to take ​part in a ​game or other ​organizedactivity: [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 ​difficultshots. [I/T] In a ​cardgame, 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 ​brilliantscientist. [I] What’s playing at (= being ​shown at) the ​localmovietheaters? 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 ​presidentdenied that ​politics played any ​part in his ​decision to ​appoint a woman to the ​SupremeCourt.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 ​performmusic on an ​instrument, or to ​cause something that ​producessound 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 ​listeningrather than by ​readingmusic).

play verb (RISK MONEY)

[T] to ​riskmoney, esp. on the ​results of ​races or ​businessdeals, hoping to ​winmoney: He plays the ​stockmarket.

playnoun

 us   /pleɪ/

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 ​regularaction 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 ​particularaction or a ​plan for a ​specific set of ​actions: [C] The ​schoolfootballteam has been ​practicing new plays all ​week.
(Definition of play from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"play" in Business English

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playverb

uk   us   /pleɪ/
have money/time, etc. to play with to have ​money, ​time, etc. ​available to use: Swelling ​taxreceipts have given the ​government more ​money to play with over the last two ​years.
play by the rules to obey the ​rules of a particular ​system: Workers should not be relegated to ​poverty if they ​work hard and play by the ​rules.
play by your own rules to do things in the way that you want, rather than obeying the ​rules of a particular ​system: Large ​multinationalcorporations often play by their own ​rules.
play catch up to ​try to be as ​successful as other ​people, ​companies, etc.: The ​firm has ​adapted quickly to ​changes in the ​globalmarket, ​leaving its ​rivals to play ​catch up.
play for high stakes to take ​bigrisks in ​order to ​achieve something that you really want: The Prime Minister is playing for high ​stakes, at the ​risk of alienating ​publicopinion.
play (it) safe to decide not to take ​risks: The ​federalgovernment often plays it ​safe by ​fundingresearch that is likely to ​succeed but may have only a slight ​impact. The biggest ​companies usually play ​safe and ​hiretoplegalfirms from London or New York.
play the (money/stock) market FINANCE to ​tradeshares, ​bonds, etc., especially in ​order to make ​money quickly, rather than to ​invest over a ​longerperiod: Spread ​bettingcompaniesoffer an ​opportunity for ​privateindividuals to play the ​stockmarket.
play a key/major/important role/part (in sth) (also have a key/major/important role/part to play (in sth)) to have a lot of ​power or ​influence in a particular ​situation: His ​financialexpertise played a ​major role in London City airport's ​development. IT had a ​keypart to play in ​modernizing the ​organization.
play the system to use a set of ​rules or ​laws in ​order to get an ​advantage for yourself, in a way that may not be ​fair: If you know how to play the ​system, there are various ​legalloopholes to be ​exploited.
play to your strengths to do things that you know you are good at: In ​business, you sometimes have to ​follow your instincts and play to your ​strengths.

playnoun

uk   us   /pleɪ/
[C] FINANCE the ​act of ​tradingshares, ​bonds, etc.: Institutional ​investors remained on the ​sidelines, ​refusing to make any ​big plays until a definite announcement is made.
be at play to have an ​influence in a ​situation: Many ​issues are at play here, ​including the ​impact on the ​environment.
be in play FINANCE if a ​company or its ​shares are in play, they may be ​bought by other ​companies or ​shareholders: In a corporate-driven ​dealenvironment, ​even "untouchable" ​bankstocks could be in play.
bring/call sth into play to ​start to use something for a particular ​purpose: Special ​computersoftwareprograms were ​brought into play during the ​vote recount.
come into play to begin to have an ​influence on something: New ​federalpensionlaws have come into play that could affect the ​retirementsecurity of many of our ​employees.
make a play for sth to ​try to get ​control of something: The ​government has been ​accused of making a play for ​onlinebettingtaxrevenues.
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(Definition of play from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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