play 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

One area of agreement is that while intelligence is determined mainly by genetic factors, the environment shapes how those genetic predispositions play out. Sue Shellenbarger, WSJ, "The Science Behind Making Your Child Smarter," 24 Dec. 2018 But that’s a pretty thin threat since this is a prequel, and anyone who cares about these films likely already knows everything about how the story ultimately plays out. Tasha Robinson, The Verge, "Even for the Harry Potter hardcore, Crimes of Grindelwald is one convoluted movie," 8 Nov. 2018 Didier Deschamps side ground out narrow victories against Australia and Peru before playing out a dull 0-0 draw with Denmark - the only goalless draw of the tournament thus far., "World Cup Preview: France vs Belgium - Recent Form, Classic Encounter, Predictions & More," 9 July 2018 His technique is reminiscent of how Season 2 of Westworld played out, only Sharp Objects offers more immediate gratification, solving its puzzles quickly and with precision. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The Twisted, Enthralling Rot of Sharp Objects," 7 July 2018 Kevin also wrote an interesting article about how the Supreme Court vacancy is already playing out in Facebook ads. Daisuke Wakabayashi, New York Times, "The Week in Tech: Facebook Is Disinvited From July Fourth Barbecues," 6 July 2018 Depending on how negotiations play out, the Padres could sign up to four more of its draftees. Jeff Sanders,, "Tatis swats 15th homer with Missions; July 2 signing period opens," 3 July 2018 Congress has tried to raise the alarm about how all this could play out in November, when Republicans are defending majorities in the House and Senate. Philip Elliott, Time, "Republican Allies Warn Trump on Trade," 2 July 2018 On a conference call with reporters Wednesday, senior Justice Department official Gene Hamilton wasn't clear on how the implementation of the executive order would play out. CBS News, "What happens now to 2,000 kids already separated from families? It's unclear," 21 June 2018

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

22 Jan 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 gather or build up little by little

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
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!