Did you know?

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

play out - 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
Word Forms
present tense
I/you/we/theyplay out
he/she/itplays out
present participleplaying out
past tenseplayed out
past participleplayed out
  1. 1
    [intransitive/transitive] to develop or end in a particular way

    They disagreed violently, and no one knew how the situation would play out.

  2. 2
    [transitive] [always passive] if an event or situation is played out in a particular way, it happens in that way

    His career as a writer was played out against a background of alcoholism.

  3. 3
    [transitive] if you play out a situation, you pretend that it is really happening
  4. 4
    [transitive] play out something to continue to play a sport until the end of a particular period

    She played out the rest of her career in America.

See also main entry: play


a rainbow produced when water droplets in the air reflect light from the moon rather than the sun

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary

platform capitalism

a way of doing business that involves recruiting large numbers of people who work for themselves using the company's platform, as used by companies such as Uber, Deliveroo and the like

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