: to do (something) in a way that is not serious
They were only playing at trying to fix the problem.
: to play by pretending to be (someone or something)
She liked to play at doctors and nurses as a child.
—often used in the phrase play at being (something) boys playing at being soldiers
—used to say in an annoyed way that one does not know the reason for someone's behavior
Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!