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

idiom

: 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.

Examples of play (someone or something) off against (someone or something) in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Her scenes with Buckley, in which the irresistible urge of Irish bonhomie butts up against the immovable object of passive-aggressive politeness and repression, are like watching musicians play off against each other’s weaving melodies and riffs. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 27 Mar. 2024 His mode of ground-hugging modernism—with clean, cool lines that play off against the year-round California green—helped to define the local architectural vernacular. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 20 Sep. 2021 Again, inertia and gravity are play off against each other to produce the greatest possible sip, although the bigger cats compensate for their bigger tongues by lapping more slowly. Ed Yong, Discover Magazine, 11 Nov. 2010

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'play (someone or something) off against (someone or something).' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Dictionary Entries Near play (someone or something) off against (someone or something)

playsome

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

play structure

Cite this Entry

“Play (someone or something) off against (someone or something).” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/play%20%28someone%20or%20something%29%20off%20against%20%28someone%20or%20something%29. Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

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