1 amuse oneself, frolic, frisk, cavort, gambol, caper, sport, have fun, have a good time, enjoy oneself, disport (oneself), carouse:
Ken's mother won't let him go out and play.
2 participate (in), take part (in), join (in), be occupied (in or with); engage in, contend in, take up, take part in, occupy oneself in or with, undertake:
He was invited for a game of poker, but he refused to play. I understand that you play bridge
3 engage, contend with, compete with or against, challenge, vie with, pit oneself against, take on, rival:
The stranger played me at snooker, and I lost three games out of three
4 portray, depict, perform, act or take the role or part of, act:
In the new production of Othello she plays Desdemona.
5 perform (upon or on); put on:
Play 'Misty' for me. She plays the piccolo very well. Could you play that Caruso record?
I wish they wouldn't play their hi-fi so loud.
7 gamble, bet, wager, stake, place, put:
He played his last chip on number 14.
8 play along.
(a) Often, play along with. cooperate, participate, go along (with), do or play one's part, be a party to:
I agreed to play along with her charade.
(b) manipulate, jolly along:
She played him along till he bought her a car.
9 play around.
(a) fool around, tease, Colloq monkey about or around, horse around or about:
Stop playing around and get to work.
(b) dally, flirt, be unfaithful; philander, womanize; Colloq fool around, run around, sleep around, play the field:
She found out about his playing around and filed for divorce.
10 play at. pretend, make believe, fake, feign, simulate, affect:
She's merely playing at enjoying skiing to please you.
11 play ball. cooperate, agree, work together, work hand in glove, play along:
They want him to smuggle diamonds, but he won't play ball.
12 play by ear. improvise, extemporize, ad lib, Colloq wing it:
She can't read music and just plays by ear. With no definite plan of action, I'll just play it by ear.
13 play down. belittle, minimize, diminish, disparage, make light of, deprecate, decry, de-emphasize:
He has always played down his role in the affair.
14 play for time. delay, procrastinate, stall (for time), temporize, hesitate, Colloq drag one's feet:
They don't yet have the money to pay, so they are playing for time
15 play on or upon. use, misuse, abuse, trade on, exploit, take advantage of, impose on:
He plays on women's affections then persuades them to give him money.
16 play the game. behave, conduct oneself, deport oneself, act:
It makes no difference whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game
17 play up.
(a) stress, emphasize, underscore, underline, accentuate, call attention to, highlight, spotlight, dramatize, build up:
Always try to play up your assets and play down your liabilities.
(b) act up, misbehave, give or cause trouble, malfunction, Colloq go on the blink or US fritz, Brit be wonky:
The bloody engine started playing up again, right in the middle of a rainstorm
18 play up to. curry favour with, flatter, toady to, ingratiate oneself with, butter up, truckle to, court, Colloq soft-soap, suck up to, boot-lick, US apple-polish, Taboo Slang brown-nose:
Ray is always playing up to the teacher, trying to get a better mark
19 play with.
(a) toy with, trifle with, treat cavalierly or lightly, make light of, think nothing of, dally with, amuse oneself with:
He's just playing with her till he gets what he's after.
(b) consider, think about, toy with, not treat seriously:
We were playing with the idea of a winter holiday this year.
(c) mess with, fiddle with, toy with, fidget with:
Stop playing with your food!
20 drama, stage play, show, piece, production, entertainment:
We have tickets to a different play for every night this week.
21 behaviour, actions, deportment, conduct, demeanour:
In the game of life, many have no regard for the rules of fair play. The police suspect foul play
22 amusement, frivolity, entertainment, recreation, fun, pleasure, sport, merrymaking, revelry, tomfoolery, Colloq horseplay, skylarking, monkey business, Brit monkey tricks or US monkeyshines:
The time for play is past, and we must get down to serious business.
23 move, manoeuvre, action:
That last play might have won you the game.
24 flexibility, looseness, freedom, leeway, margin, room, space, movement, motion, Colloq give:
There's too much play in this gear lever.
25 treatment, coverage, attention:
The newspapers gave Connie's new book a big play.