Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

play off against - definition and synonyms


What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.



Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

phrasal verb [transitive]
Word Forms
present tense
I/you/we/theyplay off against
he/she/itplays off against
present participleplaying off against
past tenseplayed off against
past participleplayed off against
  1. play someone off against someone if you play two people off against each other, you try to cause an argument between them because you think that this will give you more power or control in a situation
See also main entry: play

Open Dictionary


a rise in the level of a stream or river

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play