Definition for PLAY

PLAY, v.i. [Sax. plegan, plegian, to play, to joke, to perform on an instrument of music, to move or vibrate, to clap or applaud, to deride or make sport of; pleggan, to ply or bend to, or to lean or lie on; geplægan, to play, and to dance or leap. The Sw. leka, Dan. leger, to play, are the same word without a prefix, and in the northern counties of England, leka is used as it is in Sweden. This word seems to be formed on the same root as lay.]

  1. To use any exercise for pleasure or recreation; to do something not as a task or for profit, but for amusement; as, to play at cricket. The people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. – Exod. xxxii.
  2. To sport; to frolick; to frisk. The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to day, / Had he thy reason, would he skip and play? – Pope.
  3. To toy; to act with levity. – Milton.
  4. To trifle; to act wantonly and thoughtlessly. Men are apt to play with their healths and their lives as they do with their clothes. – Temple.
  5. To do something fanciful; to give a fanciful turn to; as to play upon words. – Shak.
  6. To make sport, or practice sarcastic merriment. I would make use of it rather to play upon those I despise, than trifle with those I love. – Pope.
  7. To mock; to practice illusion. Art thou alive, / Or is it fancy plays upon our eyesight? – Shak.
  8. To contend in a game; as, to play at cards or dice; to play for diversion; to play for money.
  9. To practice a trick or deception. His mother played false with a smith. – Shak.
  10. To perform on an instrument of music; as, to play on a flute, a violin or a harpsichord. Play, my friend, and charm the charmer. – Granville.
  11. To move, or to move with alternate dilatation and contraction. The heart beats, the blood circulates, the lungs play. – Cheyne.
  12. To operate; to act. The engines play against a fire. – Dryden.
  13. To move irregularly; to wanton. Ev'n as the waving sedges play with wind. – Shak. The setting sun / Plays on their shining arms and burnish'd helmets. – Addison. All fame is foreign, but of true desert, / Plays round the head, but comes not to the heart. – Pope.
  14. To act a part on the stage; to personate a character. A lord will hear you play to-night. – Shak.
  15. To represent a standing character. Courts are theaters where some men play. – Donne.
  16. To act in any particular character; as, to play the fool; to play the woman; to play the man. – Shak.
  17. To move in any manner; to move one way and another; as any part of a machine.

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