play out

played out; playing out; plays out

Definition of play out

transitive verb

1a : to perform to the end play out a role
b : use up, finish
2 : unreel, unfold played out a length of line— Gordon Webber

intransitive verb

1 : to become spent or exhausted
2 : develop, unfold see how things play out

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for play out


absorb, burn, consume, deplete, devour, drain, draw down, exhaust, expend, spend, use up


renew, replace

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of play out in a Sentence

we've finally played out the leftovers from that huge holiday meal

Recent Examples on the Web

The song itself plays out like a hallucinoeginc journey, beginning slowly with trepidatious steps over the edge of its excitement. Kat Bein, Billboard, "Opiuo Enlists Animator Dr. D Foothead for Psychedelic 'Kaleidoscope' Video: Exclusive," 8 Aug. 2019 Food is one of the few ways in which my Gazan roots continue to play out. The Economist, "How to eat well while living under siege," 2 Aug. 2019 The findings suggest that the initial stages of thermalization play out in a way that’s very different from what comes later. Quanta Magazine, "The Universal Law That Aims Time’s Arrow," 1 Aug. 2019 Predictably, since then, the battle has played out online and in the media. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Minnesota and Wisconsin Are Beefing About Who Has More Lakes," 20 July 2019 Osaka's response brought her to tears Williams cranked up her level at crunch time in a scene regularly played out over her three-decade career. Ravi Ubha, CNN, "Serena Williams all 'business' ahead of Wimbledon semifinals," 10 July 2019 Throughout the beloved 80s sitcom’s seven seasons, all four women would frequently gather in Blanche’s kitchen as their lives played out under one roof. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, "WATCH: Here’s the Deal with Blanche’s House from The Golden Girls," 28 June 2019 Barnett had a history of listening to Thomas and Linda’s relationship play out. USA Today, "Alaska is considered the deadliest state for women. A staggering 59% of women there have experienced violence.," 25 June 2019 That poses a privacy dilemma that is playing out on a daily basis, as health tech companies compile more data on their customers. STAT, "What if AI in health care is the next asbestos?," 19 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'play out.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of play out

1598, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about play out

Statistics for play out

Last Updated

20 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for play out

The first known use of play out was in 1598

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on play out

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with play out

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for play out

Comments on play out

What made you want to look up play out? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a usually brief trip or an expedition

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!