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

To varying degrees, the themes in the chairman’s election are also playing out in the races for the other open board seats. Antonio Olivo, Washington Post, "With Corey Stewart leaving politics, Prince William County’s political future is up for grabs," 6 July 2019 Other major international sports competitions will play out across the Atlantic. Kevin Dotson, CNN, "The Women's World Cup final isn't the only big game this weekend. Keep your eyes on Wimbledon, the Tour De France and MLB," 5 July 2019 This fight should play out similarly to Cormier’s victory over Anthony Smith this past March in his last title defense. Justin Barrasso,, "UFC 239 Burning Questions: Is Daniel Cormier Next if Jon Jones Wins?," 5 July 2019 For the most part, Sea of Solitude plays out like a fairly standard third-person adventure game. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "Sea of Solitude is a haunting game that turns personal demons into literal monsters," 5 July 2019 The preference for most teams is to wait for summer league to play out, to keep an eye on other rosters, as well as their own. Ira Winderman,, "Two-way contracts more than afterthoughts for Heat," 2 July 2019 Different trends however, played out at the top and bottom of the market throughout Houston. R.a. Schuetz, Houston Chronicle, "Houston’s office market may not have hit rock bottom after all," 2 July 2019 The furor over Gage’s suicide is playing out against a wider backdrop of societal reckoning brought about by the #MeToo movement. John Wilkens, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Suicide of Fallbrook horseman suspended for sexual misconduct roils equestrian world," 1 July 2019 But first, two parallel and courageous challenges to authoritarian rule are playing out in the streets. The Christian Science Monitor, "Democracies try to boost public service," 1 July 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

9 Jul 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).


to form ideas or theories about something

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


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!