Definition of play noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//pleɪ//
    ; NAmE NAmE//pleɪ//
    Radio broadcasting
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  1. 1  [uncountable] things that people, especially children, do for pleasure rather than as work the happy sounds of children at play the importance of learning through play a play area
  2. in theatre
  3. 2   [countable] a piece of writing performed by actors in a theatre or on television or radio to put on (= perform) a play a play by Shakespeare a radio play see also morality play, mystery play, Passion play Wordfinderactor, audition, body double, cameo, cast, play, role, star, stuntman, understudy Wordfindercomedy, denouement, dialogue, drama, dramatic irony, play, scene, set, soliloquy, speech Wordfinderact, cast, drama, entrance, exit, line, play, role, scene, speech See related entries: Radio broadcasting
  4. in sport
  5. 3[uncountable] the playing of a game Rain stopped play. There was some excellent play in yesterday's match. The spectators were asked to be quiet during play. see also fair play, foul play
  6. 4[countable] (North American English) an action or move in a game a defensive play
  7. in rope
  8. 5[uncountable] the possibility of free and easy movement We need more play in the rope.
  9. activity/influence
  10. 6[uncountable] the activity or operation of something; the influence of something on something else the free play of market forces The financial crisis has brought new factors into play. Personal feelings should not come into play when you are making business decisions.
  11. of light/a smile
  12. 7[uncountable] (literary) a light, quick movement that keeps changing the play of sunlight on water
  13. Word OriginOld English pleg(i)an ‘to exercise’, plega ‘brisk movement’, related to Middle Dutch pleien ‘leap for joy, dance’.Extra examples At close of play he had scored 38 not out. Children spend hours at play. He kicked the ball out of play. He made several nice defensive plays. He was sent off for foul play. I only said it in play. Rain stopped play 40 minutes into the match. The ball is still in play. The children always perform a nativity play every Christmas. The local council runs some good play schemes. The offensive coordinator has called 60 running plays and 44 passes. The play is reviewed in most of today’s papers. There were ten double plays completed. They ran 10 plays inside the 30 in the fourth quarter. a play about teenage runaways the final play of the first half the team’s ability to execute a play Kate’s class decided to put on a play for the school. The theatre was refused permission to stage the play. They are performing a play by Pinter. a children’s play area the happy sounds of children at playIdioms
    all work and no play (makes Jack a dull boy)
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    (saying) it is not healthy to spend all your time working; you need to relax too
    (informal) to be very easy to do, so not even a child would find it difficult
    call something into play
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    (formal) to make use of something Chess is a game that calls into play all your powers of concentration.
    have a play (with something)
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    to spend time playing with a toy, game, etc. I had a play with the new computer game.
    (sport) (of a ball) inside/outside the area allowed by the rules of the game She just managed to keep the ball in play.
    make great/much play of something
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    to emphasize the importance of a particular fact He made great play of the fact that his uncle was a duke.
    make a play for somebody/something
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    to try to obtain something; to do things that are intended to produce a particular result She was making a play for the sales manager's job.
    the humorous use of a word or phrase that can have two different meanings synonym pun
    1. 1the stage that has been reached in a process, etc. which has not yet been completed What is the current state of play in the peace talks?
    2. 2(especially British English) the score in a sports match, especially in cricket
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: play