: to move or handle (something) with one's hands or fingers often without thinking
Stop playing with that pen and pay attention to what I'm saying.
: to handle, change, or deal with (something) in a careless way
I played with the radio for a while but couldn't get it to work.
It's important to teach your children not to play with guns/fire/matches.
Don't play with my heart/emotions.
You have to take this seriously. You're playing with people's lives!
: to think about (something) briefly and not very seriously
I played with the idea of moving to Chicago but ended up staying in New York.
Examples of play with in a Sentence
Recent Examples on the WebInside, a small boy plays with toy soldiers in front of a television set, and suddenly finds his hands covered in blood.—Robyn Dixon, Washington Post, 3 Dec. 2023 To keep it fresh and interesting, play with textures.—Caitlin Sole, Better Homes & Gardens, 3 Dec. 2023 Kelly was less effective before the trade, with a 4.97 ERA to start the season while playing with the Chicago White Sox.—Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times, 2 Dec. 2023 The surgeon has 20 seconds to play with to be able to save someone's life.—Pierre Thomas, ABC News, 1 Dec. 2023 Visually, Flash played with viewers’ expectations, printing their images on negative paper, creating a saturated world where colors were reversed (blue is printed as red, for example).—Donny Bajohr, Smithsonian Magazine, 1 Dec. 2023 Season Three adapts Herron’s novel Real Tigers, where Jackson Lamb — the filthy, flatulent, surprisingly tenacious head of Slough House, played with a hilarious lack of vanity by Gary Oldman — and his team appear to be collateral damage from a dirty piece of old MI-5 business.—Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 29 Nov. 2023 Those examples test the application of the fair use doctrine in copyright law, which allows creators to play with existing copyrights.—Tom Roland, Billboard, 22 Nov. 2023 Kravitz has always played with femininity and masculinity.—Jessica Neises, Vogue, 22 Nov. 2023 See More
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'play with.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.