play (someone or something) off against (someone or something)

idiom

Definition of play (someone or something) off against (someone or something)

: to cause two people or groups to fight or compete with (each other) in a way that helps oneself
  • They have been playing him off against his old enemies.

Word by Word Definitions

play play
  1. : swordplay

  2. : game, sport

  3. : the conduct, course, or action of a game

  1. : to engage in sport or recreation : frolic

  2. : to have sexual relations

  3. : to move aimlessly about : trifle

someone play
  1. : some person : somebody

something play
  1. : some indeterminate or unspecified thing

  2. : some indeterminate amount more than a specified number

  3. : a person or thing of consequence

  1. : in some degree : somewhat

  2. used as an intensive giving adverbial force to an adjective

off play
  1. : from a place or position

  2. : at a distance in space or time

  3. : from a course : aside

  1. used as a function word to indicate physical separation or distance from a position of rest, attachment, or union

  2. : to seaward of

  3. : from the possession or charge of

  1. : seaward

  2. : right

  3. : more removed or distant

  1. : to go away : depart

  2. : kill, murder

  1. : competition : contest

against play
  1. : in opposition or hostility to

  2. : not in conformity with : contrary to

  3. : in competition with

  1. : in preparation for the time when


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