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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Play may refer to:

In music


In other arts and entertainment

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In sports

  • Play from scrimmage, an organized action as part of the game, in American and Canadian football
  • The Play, a controversial and historic last second kickoff return for a touchdown in the 1982 Cal–Stanford 'Big Game'

In other uses

  •, an online retail company
  • Play, in engineering, the amount of lost motion due to clearance or slackness between mating components when movement is reversed, see Backlash (engineering)
  • Word play, literary and narrative technique
  • Play Mobile, a Polish internet provider and mobile operator
  • Petroleum play, group of oil fields or prospects in the same region that are controlled by the same set of geological circumstances.
  • Playboy

See also

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010
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Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Most common English words: London « save « length « #580: play » remained » bear » service


Etymology 1

Old English pleġa, plæġa



countable and uncountable; plural plays

play (countable and uncountable; plural plays)

  1. (uncountable) Activity for amusement only, especially among the young.
  2. The conduct, or course of a game.
  3. (countable) An individual's performance in a sport or game.
  4. (countable) (turn-based games) An action carried out when it is one's turn to play.
  5. (countable) A literary composition, intended to be represented by actors impersonating the characters and speaking the dialogue.
  6. (countable) A theatrical performance featuring actors.
  7. (countable) A major move by a business.
  8. (countable) A geological formation that contains an accumulation or prospect of hydrocarbons or other resources.
  9. (uncountable) The extent to which a part of a mechanism can move freely.
    No wonder the fanbelt is slipping: there’s too much play in it.
    Too much play in a steering wheel may be dangerous.
  10. (uncountable, informal) Sexual role-playing (as in ageplay, bloodplay, pissplay).
    • 1996, Sabrina P Ramet, Gender reversals and gender cultures
      The rarity of male domination in fantasy play is readily explained.
    • 1996, "toptigger", Palm Springs M seeks sane F 4 safe bdsm play (on Internet newsgroup alt.personals.spanking.punishment)

Etymology 2

Old English pleġian.


to play

Third person singular

Simple past

Past participle

Present participle

to play (third-person singular simple present plays, present participle playing, simple past and past participle played)

  1. (intransitive): To act in a manner such that one has fun; to engage in activities expressly for the purpose of recreation.
    • 2001, Annabelle Sabloff, Reordering the Natural World, Univ. of Toronto Press, p. 83,
      A youngster...listed some of the things his pet did not do: ...go on vacation, play in the same way that he did with his friends, and so on.
    • 2003, Anne-Nelly Perret-Clermont et al. (eds.), Joining Society: Social Interaction and Learning in Adolescence and Youth, Cambridge Univ. Press, p. 52,
      We had to play for an hour, so that meant that we didn't have time to play and joke around.
  2. (intransitive) To play a sport.
    He plays on three teams.
    Who's playing now?
  3. (intransitive) To produce music using a musical instrument.
    I've practiced the piano off and on, and I still can't play very well.
  4. (Can we verify(+) this sense?) (intransitive) To deal with a situation in a diplomatic manner.
  5. (transitive) To act in a performance as the indicated role.
    He plays the King, and she's the Queen.
  6. (transitive) To participate in the game indicated.
    play football, play sports, play games
  7. (transitive, ergative) To produce music on the indicated musical instrument.
    I'll play the piano and you sing.
    Can you play an instrument?
  8. (transitive, ergative) To produce music, the indicated song or style, with a musical instrument.
    We especially like to play jazz together.
    Play a song for me.
    Do you know how to play Für Elise?
    My son thinks he can play music.
  9. (transitive, ergative) To use a device to watch or listen to the indicated recording.
    You can play the DVD now.
  10. (copulative) Contrary to fact, to give an appearance of being.
    • 1985, Sharon S Brehm, Intimate Relationships
      Playing hard to get is not the same as slamming the door in someone's face.
    • 1996, Michael P Mal one, James J Hill: Empire Builder of the Northwest
      Now, surveying his final link, he had the nice advantage of being able to play coy with established port cities that desperately wanted his proven railroad.
    • 2003, John U. Ogbu, Black American Students in an Affluent Suburb: A Study of Academic Disengagement, page 194
      Instead, they played dumb, remained silent, and did their classwork.
  11. (copulative) In a game or game-like setting, to maintain a posture of being.
    They played long and hard.
    Play nice, children.
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

Derived terms





play m. inv.

  1. play (theatrical performance; start key)



  1. used to start a game of Tennis

Simple English

This page is for the plays that are performed, for other uses see play (disambiguation)

A play is a piece of writing (literature) which we see at a theatre or on television, or hear on the radio. Plays often show conversations between people, and we usually do not only watch the play, but some people also read plays to understand them better.

The people who we see in a play are actors; in a theatre they stand on a stage so the people watching (the audience) can see them better. A director helps the actors to work better, or tells them how he wants the play to be.

Plays can be very interesting because we can understand them in different ways. When the writer - the playwright - makes the play, he can not say how the actors or director will use it. Sometimes the playwright is also the director or an actor: Molière, for example, was often an actor in his plays. But the director can change the play in different ways: the actors' costume, the music, how people say things, how they move or what they hold. Modern directors can direct plays by Shakespeare, and these old plays seem modern now, too.

There are a lot of sorts of play, but there are six important sorts:

  1. Tragedy - here the end is sad, because of bad luck, because the hero is not perfect, or because of the gods.
  2. Comedy - here the end is happy. Some things in this sort of play are funny; it makes us laugh.
  3. Domestic drama - here the play is about normal life, family and friends.
  4. Tragicomedy - this play is both a tragedy and a comedy.
  5. Melodrama - this sort of play often has a happy ending. In it there is a villain - a bad person - but the hero (and often a heroine) win. The emotions are very strong.
  6. Symbolic - this sort of play is about ideas. The people in the play are not so important.

Symbolic can also be called expressionistic. Its all about how the writer or director presents ideas in a very different point of view.

  1. (Experimental) - this is a play in which the director and actors can try out new ideas. Anything can be tried out. It is an experiment.

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