Meaning of “play at sth” in the English Dictionary

british dictionary

"play at sth" in British English

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play at sth

phrasal verb with play us uk /pleɪ/ verb

to pretend to be a particular person or to do a particular thing, usually as a game:

The children were playing at Batman and Robin.

to do something for enjoyment or interest, or without much care and effort, rather than in a serious way or as a job:

She's only playing at being an actress - she's going off to law school next year.

More examples

  • She's still playing at being a professional singer.
  • He's not really interested in the kids, he's just playing at being the perfect father to impress his parents.
  • The kids have been playing at Doctors and Nurses all afternoon.
  • The classroom has a home corner where the children can play at being Mummies and Daddies.
  • You can't just play at being a mother, it's a lifelong commitment.

(Definition of “play at sth” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)