play·​act ˈplā-ˌakt How to pronounce playact (audio)
playacted; playacting; playacts

intransitive verb

: to take part in theatrical performances especially as a professional
: to make believe
: to engage in theatrical or insincere behavior
playacting noun

Examples of playact in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Today, Margaret would be playacting her own massacre in active shooter drills at school. Petula Dvorak, Washington Post, 1 May 2023 Trump’s modus, as ever, was to playact; his game has always been improv. Joe Klein, Washington Post, 12 Jan. 2023 Trixie advises Alma to playact highness to flummox E.B. Matt Zoller Seitz, Vulture, 18 Dec. 2021 Today, this dynamic lives on in the form of Roblox strip clubs, where young people — mostly, minors — playact at adult sexuality. Ej Dickson, Rolling Stone, 12 Sep. 2021 The world had first required her to playact as a man. Will Stephenson, Harper's Magazine, 15 Sep. 2020 Yona has it better than the locals who have agreed to playact, and likely die, in Mui’s fake new disaster. Madeline Leung Coleman, The Atlantic, 13 Aug. 2020 In a twist, The Sims is now a way to playact not just an alternate life, but any life at all. Kaitlyn Tiffany, The Atlantic, 19 Apr. 2020 One of the funniest answers to this question comes from the comedian Conner O’Malley, who has built a career playacting the way consumerism warps our spirits. Sam Anderson, New York Times, 6 Feb. 2020 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'playact.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


back-formation from playacting

First Known Use

1856, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of playact was in 1856

Dictionary Entries Near playact

Cite this Entry

“Playact.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

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