Synonyms of play in English:

play


See definition of play

verb

1‘the children were playing with toys on the floor’

SYNONYMS
amuse oneself, entertain oneself, enjoy oneself, have fun, have a good time, relax, rest, be at leisure, occupy oneself, divert oneself, play games, frolic, frisk, gambol, romp, cavort, caper
informal mess about, mess around, lark, lark about, lark around
dated sport
archaic, humorous disport oneself

2‘I used to play football’

SYNONYMS
take part in, participate in, engage in, be involved in, join in, compete in, do

3‘Liverpool play Sheffield United on Wednesday’

SYNONYMS
compete against, contend against, oppose, take on, challenge, vie with, rival

4‘he was about to play Macbeth’

SYNONYMS
act the part of, play the part of, act, take the role of, enact, represent, perform, appear as, portray, depict, impersonate, pretend to be, execute, render, interpret
rare personate

5‘he never learned to play a musical instrument’

SYNONYMS
perform on, make music on
blow, sound, strum

6‘his hair gleamed as the sunlight played on it’

SYNONYMS
move lightly, dance, flit, dart, ripple, lick, touch

noun

1‘one must strike a balance between work and play’

SYNONYMS
amusement, entertainment, relaxation, recreation, enjoyment, pleasure, diversion, distraction, leisure, fun, games, fun and games
playfulness, horseplay, skylarking, larks, a good time, jollification, junketing, merrymaking, revelry
informal living it up
dated sport
ANTONYMS

work

2‘a play by Shakespeare’

SYNONYMS
drama, stage play, stage show, theatrical work, theatrical piece, radio play, television play, teleplay, screenplay, comedy, tragedy, farce, sketch
production, performance, spectacle, show

3‘they have understood the play of the real world’

SYNONYMS
action, activity, operation, movement, motion, agency, employment, working, function, functioning, exercise, interaction, interplay

4‘the steering rack was loose, and there was a little play’

SYNONYMS
movement, freedom of movement, free motion, slack, give
room to manoeuvre, room to operate, scope, latitude, elbow room, space, margin

5‘we enable people to give full play to their energy and abilities’

SYNONYMS
scope, range, latitude, liberty, licence, freedom, indulgence, free rein, release

Phrases

    play at

    ‘like a dictator he will play at being kind and good’


    SYNONYMS
    pretend to be, give the appearance of, affect the role of, assume the role of, pass oneself off as, masquerade as, profess to be, pose as, impersonate, make out, fake, feign, simulate, affect, go through the motions of
    North American informal make like
    play ball

    ‘if you play ball, I can help you’


    SYNONYMS
    cooperate, collaborate, play along, play the game, go along with the plan, show willing, be willing, help, lend a hand, assist, be of assistance, contribute, reciprocate, respond
    pitch in
    play around

    ‘I played around a bit but now I've settled down’


    SYNONYMS
    womanize, philander, have affairs affair, have an affair, flirt, dally, toy with someone's affections, trifle with someone's affections
    informal carry on, mess about, mess around, play the field, play away, sleep around, swing, be a man-eater
    North American informal fool around
    vulgar slang screw around
    rare coquet
    play for time


    SYNONYMS
    use delaying tactics, stall, temporize, gain time, hang back, hang fire, hold back, procrastinate, beat about the bush, drag one's feet, delay, filibuster, stonewall
    play something down

    ‘ministers sought to play down the extent of the damage’


    SYNONYMS
    make light of, make little of, make nothing of, set little store by, set no store by, gloss over, de-emphasize, underemphasize, downplay, understate, underplay, minimize, shrug off
    soft-pedal, tone down, diminish, downgrade, trivialize, detract from, underrate, underestimate, undervalue, think little of, disparage, decry, deprecate, talk down, belittle, slight, scoff at, sneer at
    informal pooh-pooh
    rare derogate
    ANTONYMS

    exaggerate

    play on

    ‘it is despicable to play on the fears of ordinary people’


    SYNONYMS
    exploit, take advantage of, use, make use of, turn to account, turn to one's account, profit by, capitalize on, impose on, trade on, milk, abuse, misuse
    informal walk all over
    play out

    1‘the position of the sub-tropical jet stream across North America will determine how winter plays out’


    SYNONYMS
    turn out, work out, conclude, end, end up, result, come out, fall out, develop, evolve

    2‘this scenario plays out all across the country’


    SYNONYMS
    happen, occur, take place, come about, come to pass, crop up, turn up, arise, chance, ensue, befall, be realized, take shape, transpire
    rare eventuate
    play havoc with

    ‘dust will play havoc with electrical systems’


    SYNONYMS
    disturb, disrupt, disorder, disorganize, disarrange, interfere with, upset, unsettle, convulse
    obstruct, impede, hamper
    hold up, delay, retard, slow, slow down
    throw into confusion, throw into disorder, throw into disarray, cause confusion in, cause turmoil in, derange, turn upside-down, make a mess of
    ruin, wreck, spoil, undo, mar, frustrate, blight, crush, quell, quash, dash, scotch, shatter, devastate, demolish, sabotage
    informal mess up, screw up, louse up, foul up, make a hash of, do in, put paid to, put the lid on, put the kibosh on, stymie, queer, nix, banjax, blow a hole in
    British informal scupper, dish, throw a spanner in the works of
    North American informal throw a monkey wrench in the works of
    Australian informal euchre, cruel
    play something out

    ‘the simmering tension between them is played out against the sweep of world events’


    SYNONYMS
    portray, represent, depict, characterize, describe, present
    enact, perform, render, act, stage
    express, give expression to, communicate, set forth, articulate
    play a part in

    ‘historical events have also played a part in directing these efforts’


    SYNONYMS
    contribute to, be instrumental in, be a factor in, be partly responsible for, have a hand in, be conducive to, make for, lead to, cause, give rise to
    help, promote, advance, further, forward, oil the wheels of, open the door for, add to
    formal conduce to
    ANTONYMS

    stand in the way of

    play the fool


    SYNONYMS
    clown about, clown around, act the clown, act the fool, fool about, fool around, mess about, mess around, monkey about, monkey around, footle about, footle around, joke, play pranks, indulge in horseplay
    informal horse about, horse around, screw around, puddle about, puddle around, act the goat, lark about, lark around
    British informal muck about, muck around, fanny about, fanny around
    British vulgar slang piss about, piss around, arse about, arse around
    dated play the giddy goat
    played out

    ‘the melodrama is a little played out to be entirely satisfying’


    SYNONYMS
    stale, hackneyed, well worn, clichéd, stock, trite, banal, worn out, time-worn, threadbare, hoary, tired, overused, obsolete, antiquated, finished, old
    clapped out, old hat, hacky
    play the game

    ‘I don't trust them—they don't always play the game’


    SYNONYMS
    play fair, be fair, play by the rules, abide by the rules, follow the rules, conform, be a good sport, toe the line, keep in step
    play up

    1‘there were some boys that really did play up’


    SYNONYMS
    misbehave, be misbehaved, behave badly, be bad, be naughty, be mischievous, get up to mischief, be disobedient, be awkward, cause trouble, give trouble, make trouble
    British informal be stroppy, be bolshie

    2‘the boiler's playing up again’


    SYNONYMS
    not work properly, be defective, be faulty, malfunction, act up, give trouble
    informal be on the blink, go on the blink

    3‘his injured leg was playing up’


    SYNONYMS
    be painful, hurt, ache, be sore, cause pain, cause discomfort, cause trouble, annoy
    informal kill someone, give someone gyp
    play something up

    ‘the press has played up the problems’


    SYNONYMS
    emphasize, lay emphasis on, put emphasis on, accentuate, bring attention to, call attention to, draw attention to, focus attention on, point up, underline, underscore, highlight, spotlight, foreground, feature, give prominence to, bring to the fore, heighten, stress, accent
    play up to

    ‘he's been playing up to her the whole time’


    SYNONYMS
    ingratiate oneself with, seek the favour of, try to get on the good side of, curry favour with, court, fawn on, fawn over, make up to, keep someone sweet, toady to, crawl to, grovel to, pander to, be obsequious towards, truckle to, flatter
    informal soft-soap, suck up to, butter up, be all over, lick someone's boots, brown-nose
    vulgar slang kiss someone's arse, lick someone's arse
    play on words

    ‘its very title turns out to be a play on words’


    SYNONYMS
    pun, wordplay, double entendre, double meaning, innuendo, witticism, quip, quibble
    rare paronomasia, equivoque, amphibology, pivot, calembour, carriwitchet, clench, clinch, conundrum, nick, pundigrion, whim
    bring into play

    ‘all of these factors are brought into play in the strategic planning process’


    SYNONYMS
    use, employ, exercise, make use of, utilize, avail oneself of, put to use
    practise, apply, bring to bear, implement, exert, wield