English dictionary

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English noun: play

1. play (communication) a dramatic work intended for performance by actors on a stage

SamplesHe wrote several plays but only one was produced on Broadway.

Synonymsdrama, dramatic play

Broader (hypernym)dramatic composition, dramatic work

Narrower (hyponym)Grand Guignol, miracle play, morality play, mystery play, Passion play, playlet, satyr play, theater of the absurd

Part holonymact, stage direction

Domain categorydrama

2. play (communication) a theatrical performance of a drama

SamplesThe play lasted two hours.

Broader (hypernym)show

Narrower (hyponym)curtain raiser, musical, musical comedy, musical theater

3. play (act) a preset plan of action in team sports

SamplesThe coach drew up the plays for her team.

Broader (hypernym)plan of action

Narrower (hyponym)basketball play, football play, knock on, power play, razmataz, razzle, razzle-dazzle, razzmatazz

4. play (act) a deliberate coordinated movement requiring dexterity and skill

SamplesHe made a great maneuver.
The runner was out on a play by the shortstop.

Synonymsmaneuver, manoeuvre

Broader (hypernym)motion, move, movement

Narrower (hyponym)assist, ball hawking, baseball play, blitz, completion, figure, footwork, icing, icing the puck, jugglery, linebacker blitzing, mousetrap, obstruction, pass completion, safety blitz, shot, stroke, takeaway, trap play

Part meronymathletic game

5. play (state) a state in which action is feasible

SamplesThe ball was still in play.
Insiders said the company's stock was in play.

Broader (hypernym)action, activeness, activity

6. play (act) utilization or exercise

SamplesThe play of the imagination.

Broader (hypernym)employment, exercise, usage, use, utilisation, utilization

7. play (act) an attempt to get something

SamplesThey made a futile play for power.
He made a bid to gain attention.


Broader (hypernym)attempt, effort, endeavor, endeavour, try

8. play (act) activity by children that is guided more by imagination than by fixed rules

SamplesFreud believed in the utility of play to a small child.

Synonymschild's play

Broader (hypernym)diversion, recreation

Narrower (hyponym)doctor, fireman, house

9. play (time) (in games or plays or other performances) the time during which play proceeds

SamplesRain stopped play in the 4th inning.

Synonymsperiod of play, playing period

Broader (hypernym)amount, measure, quantity

Narrower (hyponym)golf hole, hole, set

Part holonymbout, chukka, chukker, final period, first period, frame, half, inning, over, period, quarter, round, second period, turn

Part meronymathletic game

Domain categorygame

10. play (state) the removal of constraints

SamplesHe gave free rein to his impulses.
They gave full play to the artist's talent.

Synonymsfree rein

Broader (hypernym)freedom

11. play (event) a weak and tremulous light

SamplesThe shimmer of colors on iridescent feathers.
The play of light on the water.


Broader (hypernym)alteration, change, modification

12. play (communication) verbal wit or mockery (often at another's expense but not to be taken seriously)

SamplesHe became a figure of fun.
He said it in sport.

Synonymsfun, sport

Broader (hypernym)humor, humour, wit, witticism, wittiness

Narrower (hyponym)clowning, comedy, drollery, funniness, jocosity, jocularity, paronomasia, pun, punning, waggery, waggishness, wordplay

13. play (attribute) movement or space for movement

SamplesThere was too much play in the steering wheel.


Broader (hypernym)movability, movableness

Narrower (hyponym)slack, slackness, wiggliness

Antonymstautness, tightness

14. play (act) gay or light-hearted recreational activity for diversion or amusement

SamplesIt was all done in play.
Their frolic in the surf threatened to become ugly.

Synonymscaper, frolic, gambol, romp

Broader (hypernym)diversion, recreation

Narrower (hyponym)coquetry, craziness, dalliance, flirt, flirtation, flirting, folly, foolery, game, horseplay, indulgence, lunacy, teasing, tomfoolery, toying, word play

15. play (act) (game) the activity of doing something in an agreed succession

SamplesIt is my turn.
It is still my play.


Broader (hypernym)activity

Narrower (hyponym)at-bat, attack, bat, down, innings, lead, move, ruff, start, starting, trick, trumping

Domain categorygame

16. play (act) the act of playing for stakes in the hope of winning (including the payment of a price for a chance to win a prize)

SamplesHis gambling cost him a fortune.
There was heavy play at the blackjack table.

Synonymsgambling, gaming

Broader (hypernym)diversion, recreation, vice

Narrower (hyponym)bet, gambling game, game of chance, sporting life, throw, wager

17. play (act) the act using a sword (or other weapon) vigorously and skillfully


Broader (hypernym)action

Narrower (hyponym)fencing

English verb: play

1. play (competition) participate in games or sport

SamplesWe played hockey all afternoon.
Play cards.
Pele played for the Brazilian teams in many important matches.

Pattern of useSomebody ----s.
Somebody ----s something

Broader (hypernym)compete, contend, vie

Narrower (hyponym)ace, backstop, bandy, bid, bowl, bully off, call, catch, complete, cradle, cricket, croquet, curl, develop, develop, die, exit, face off, field, foul, fullback, fumble, gamble, golf, line up, misplay, nail, play out, put out, putt, quarterback, replay, revoke, seesaw, snooker, start, tee off, teeter-totter, teetertotter, unblock, volley, walk

Verb groupencounter, meet, play, take on

2. play (social) act or have an effect in a specified way or with a specific effect or outcome

SamplesThis factor played only a minor part in his decision.
This development played into her hands.
I played no role in your dismissal.

Pattern of useSomebody ----s something.
Something ----s something

Broader (hypernym)act, move

Verb groupplay

3. play (creation) play on an instrument

SamplesThe band played all night long.

ExamplesSam and Sue play

Pattern of useSomething ----s.
Somebody ----s

Broader (hypernym)perform

Narrower (hyponym)accompany, bow, busk, follow, play along, sound off, strike up, swing, symphonise, symphonize

Verb groupplay, play, spiel

Domain categorymusic

4. play (creation) play a role or part

SamplesGielgud played Hamlet.
She wants to act Lady Macbeth, but she is too young for the role.
She played the servant to her husband's master.

Synonymsact, represent

Pattern of useSomebody ----s.
Somebody ----s something.
Somebody ----s somebody

Broader (hypernym)re-create

Narrower (hyponym)act out, act out, emote, enact, impersonate, make, make believe, parody, portray, pretend, reenact, support

Verb groupact, act, act as, play, play, play, playact, roleplay

Domain categoryperforming arts

5. play (social) be at play; be engaged in playful activity; amuse oneself in a way characteristic of children

SamplesThe kids were playing outside all day.
I used to play with trucks as a little girl.

Pattern of useSomebody ----s

Broader (hypernym)act

Narrower (hyponym)arse around, cavort, dabble, disport, fool, fool around, frisk, frolic, gambol, horse around, lark, lark about, paddle, rollick, romp, roughhouse, run around, skylark, splash around, sport

Verb groupplay, recreate

6. play (creation) replay (as a melody)

SamplesPlay it again, Sam.
She played the third movement very beautifully.

ExamplesThey will play the duet


Pattern of useSomebody ----s something

Broader (hypernym)re-create

Narrower (hyponym)bang out, bugle, fiddle, jazz, misplay, modulate, prelude, rag, recapitulate, repeat, replay, reprise, reprize, riff, slur, tongue

Verb groupplay

7. play (creation) perform music on (a musical instrument)

SamplesHe plays the flute.
Can you play on this old recorder?.

Pattern of useSomebody ----s something

Broader (hypernym)sound

Narrower (hyponym)beat, chord, clarion, drum, fiddle, harp, pipe, register, skirl, trumpet, tweedle

Verb groupplay

Domain categorymusic, music

8. play (body) pretend to have certain qualities or state of mind

SamplesHe acted the idiot.
She plays deaf when the news are bad.

Synonymsact, act as

Pattern of useSomebody ----s somebody

Broader (hypernym)act, behave, do

Verb groupact, act, behave, do, play, represent

9. play (motion) move or seem to move quickly, lightly, or irregularly

SamplesThe spotlights played on the politicians.

Pattern of useSomething is ----ing PP

Broader (hypernym)go, locomote, move, travel

10. play (competition) bet or wager (money)

SamplesHe played $20 on the new horse.
She plays the races.

Pattern of useSomebody ----s something

Broader (hypernym)gamble

Narrower (hyponym)underplay

Verb groupplay

11. play (social) engage in recreational activities rather than work; occupy oneself in a diversion

SamplesOn weekends I play.
The students all recreate alike.


Pattern of useSomebody ----s

Verb groupplay

12. play (creation) pretend to be somebody in the framework of a game or playful activity

SamplesLet's play like I am mommy.
Play cowboy and Indians.

Pattern of useSomebody ----s something.
Somebody ----s somebody.
Somebody ----s that CLAUSE

Broader (hypernym)assume, feign, sham, simulate

Verb groupact, play, represent

13. play (creation) emit recorded sound

SamplesThe tape was playing for hours.
The stereo was playing Beethoven when I entered.

Pattern of useSomething ----s.
Something ----s something

Broader (hypernym)sound

Verb groupplay, run

14. play (creation) perform on a certain location

SamplesThe prodigy played Carnegie Hall at the age of 16.
She has been playing on Broadway for years.

Pattern of useSomebody ----s something

Broader (hypernym)perform

Verb groupact, play, playact, roleplay

Domain categoryperforming arts

15. play (competition) put (a card or piece) into play during a game, or act strategically as if in a card game

SamplesHe is playing his cards close to his chest.
The Democrats still have some cards to play before they will concede the electoral victory.

Pattern of useSomebody ----s something

Broader (hypernym)deploy

Narrower (hyponym)cover, declare, pitch

Verb groupplay, play

16. play (body) engage in an activity as if it were a game rather than take it seriously

SamplesThey played games on their opponents.
Play the stock market.
Play with her feelings.
Toy with an idea.


Pattern of useSomebody ----s something

Broader (hypernym)act, behave, do

17. play (social) behave in a certain way

SamplesPlay safe.
Play it safe.
Play fair.

Pattern of useSomebody ----s.
Something ----s something Adjective/Noun.
Somebody ----s Adjective

Broader (hypernym)act, move

Verb groupplay

18. play (creation) cause to emit recorded audio or video

SamplesThey ran the tapes over and over again.
I'll play you my favorite record.
He never tires of playing that video.

ExamplesSam and Sue play the movie


Pattern of useSomebody ----s something.
Something ----s something

Verb groupexecute, play, run, run

19. play (contact) manipulate manually or in one's mind or imagination

SamplesShe played nervously with her wedding ring.
Don't fiddle with the screws.
He played with the idea of running for the Senate.

Synonymsdiddle, fiddle, toy

Pattern of useSomebody ----s PP

Broader (hypernym)manipulate

Narrower (hyponym)put out, retire

20. play (consumption) use to one's advantage

SamplesShe plays on her clients' emotions.

Pattern of useSomebody ----s PP

Broader (hypernym)exploit, work

21. play (cognition) consider not very seriously

SamplesHe is trifling with her.
She plays with the thought of moving to Tasmania.

ExamplesSam wants to play with Sue

Synonymsdally, trifle

Pattern of useSomebody ----s PP

Broader (hypernym)consider, deal, look at, take

Verb groupdally, flirt, play, toy

22. play (stative) be received or accepted or interpreted in a specific way

SamplesThis speech didn't play well with the American public.
His remarks played to the suspicions of the committee.

Pattern of useSomebody ----s

23. play (social) behave carelessly or indifferently

SamplesPlay about with a young girl's affection.

Synonymsdally, flirt, toy

Pattern of useSomebody ----s.
Somebody ----s PP

Broader (hypernym)act, move

Verb groupdally, play, trifle

24. play (motion) cause to move or operate freely within a bounded space

SamplesThe engine has a wheel that is playing in a rack.

Pattern of useSomebody ----s something.
Something ----s something

Broader (hypernym)displace, move

25. play (creation) perform on a stage or theater

SamplesShe acts in this play.
He acted in `Julius Caesar'.
I played in `A Christmas Carol'.

Synonymsact, playact, roleplay

Pattern of useSomebody ----s

Broader (hypernym)perform

Narrower (hyponym)ham, ham it up, mime, overact, overplay, pantomime, stooge, underact, underplay

Verb groupact, act, play, play, play, represent

Domain categorydramatic art, dramatics, dramaturgy, theater, theatre

26. play (creation) be performed or presented for public viewing

SamplesWhat's playing in the local movie theater?.
`Cats' has been playing on Broadway for many years.

Pattern of useSomething ----s.
Something is ----ing PP

Narrower (hyponym)debut

Verb groupact, play, playact, roleplay

Domain categoryperforming arts

27. play (creation) cause to happen or to occur as a consequence

SamplesI cannot work a miracle.
Wreak havoc.
Bring comments.
Play a joke.
The rain brought relief to the drought-stricken area.

Synonymsbring, make for, work, wreak

Pattern of useSomebody ----s something.
Something ----s something

Broader (hypernym)create, make

Verb groupact, work

28. play (contact) discharge or direct or be discharged or directed as if in a continuous stream

SamplesPlay water from a hose.
The fountains played all day.

Pattern of useSomething ----s.
Somebody ----s something

Broader (hypernym)discharge

29. play (competition) make bets

SamplesPlay the races.
Play the casinos in Trouville.

Pattern of useSomebody ----s something

Broader (hypernym)bet, play, wager

Verb groupbet, play, play, wager

30. play (competition) stake on the outcome of an issue

SamplesI bet $100 on that new horse.
She played all her money on the dark horse.

Synonymsbet, wager

Pattern of useSomebody ----s.
Somebody ----s something

Broader (hypernym)gamble

Narrower (hyponym)back, bet on, gage, game, play, punt, raise, see, stake

Verb groupplay

31. play (competition) shoot or hit in a particular manner

SamplesShe played a good backhand last night.

Pattern of useSomebody ----s something

Broader (hypernym)hit

Narrower (hyponym)hook

Verb groupencounter, meet, play, take on

32. play (competition) use or move

SamplesI had to play my queen.

Pattern of useSomebody ----s something

Broader (hypernym)apply, employ, use, utilise, utilize

Narrower (hyponym)promote

Verb groupencounter, meet, play, play, take on

33. play (competition) employ in a game or in a specific position

SamplesThey played him on first base.

Pattern of useSomebody ----s somebody

Broader (hypernym)apply, employ, use, utilise, utilize

Verb groupencounter, meet, play, play, take on

34. play (competition) contend against an opponent in a sport, game, or battle

SamplesPrinceton plays Yale this weekend.
Charlie likes to play Mary.

ExamplesSam and Sue play, Sam cannot play Sue

Synonymsencounter, meet, take on

Pattern of useSomebody ----s somebody

Narrower (hyponym)confront, face, replay

Entailcompete, contend, vie

Verb groupplay, play, play, play

35. play (body) exhaust by allowing to pull on the line

SamplesPlay a hooked fish.

Pattern of useSomebody ----s something

Broader (hypernym)beat, exhaust, tucker, tucker out, wash up

Based on WordNet 3.0 copyright © Princeton University.
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