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play - definition and synonyms


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verb play pronunciation in American English /pleɪ/
Word Forms
present tense
present participleplaying
past tenseplayed
past participleplayed
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  1. 1
    [intransitive/transitive] to take part in a sport or game
    The girls are out playing tennis.
    He played well, though his team lost.
    play for: He played for the Yankees before he was traded to Milwaukee.
    Do you want to play cards?
    1. a.
      [intransitive/transitive] to compete against someone in a sport or game
      She plays the winner of tomorrow’s match.
      Chicago plays Los Angeles tonight at the stadium.
      play against: The Bears are playing against the Niners tonight.
    2. b.
      [transitive] to use a particular person in your team
      The coach has to decide today whether or not to play him.
    3. c.
      [intransitive/transitive] to have a particular position in a sports team
      She plays in defense.
    4. d.
      [transitive] to hit or kick a ball
      The ball was going out so he was right not to play it.
  2. 2
    [intransitive/transitive] music to perform music, or to use an instrument to make music
    He played several organ pieces by Bach.
    Gloria plays the violin in the London Philharmonic.
    The orchestra played beautifully tonight.
    1. a.
      to make something such as a radio, CD, etc. start to produce sounds, or to be made to do this
      They played the CD at full volume.
      A tape was played in court in which he confessed to the crime.
      I could hear a radio playing in the apartment above.
  3. 3
    [transitive] theatre, cinema to have a particular part in a play or movie
    She played Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire.
    The role of the mother was played by one of Australia’s finest actresses.
    Synonyms and related words
    1. a.
      [intransitive] if a play or movie is playing somewhere, it is being performed or shown there
      What’s playing at the local movie theater?
    2. b.
      [intransitive] to act in a particular play
      I was asked to play in a new version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
      Synonyms and related words
  4. 4
    [intransitive/transitive] if children play or play something, they do things that they enjoy, for example using toys and taking part in games
    The children were playing in the backyard.
    Molly and Lilly were playing happily together.
    play by yourself (=when you are alone): Tom’s very good at playing by himself.
    play with: She watched some kids playing with a ball in the street.
    1. a.
      [transitive] to pretend to be someone else while playing
      My little girl likes to play mommy with her doll.
  5. 5
    [intransitive] mainly literary if something such as light plays somewhere, it moves quickly over a surface, appearing in different places for a very short time
    Moonlight played on the surface of the lake.



a course of study which is much shorter than a university course and focuses on the skills you need for a job, especially computer-related skills

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an ancient Roman system of underfloor heating, used to heat houses with hot air; from the Latin 'hypocaustum'

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