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

Definition of playact

intransitive verb

1a : to take part in theatrical performances especially as a professional
b : to make believe
2 : to engage in theatrical or insincere behavior

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from playact

playacting \ ˈplā-​ˌak-​tiŋ How to pronounce playacting (audio) \ noun

Examples of playact in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Awkwafina contains multitudes, and Nora From Queens gets a kick out of putting the main character, already grappling with her place in the world, in situations that give her the opportunity to playact. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens': TV Review," 9 Jan. 2020 To watch a supporter of the previous president — a president who abused his executive power in unprecedented ways — playacting as a Madisonian purist was intolerable. David Harsanyi, National Review, "Presidential Misconduct: Some Historical Perspective," 5 Dec. 2019 David Moyes definitely wasn't bitter about Luis Suarez's diving celebration for Liverpool during a Merseyside derby in 2012, the striker responding to accusations of playacting from the Everton boss., "8 of the Most Controversial Celebrations in Football History," 12 Sep. 2019 The Handmaid seemed to evolve from a symbol of advocacy for victims into a way of playacting victimhood. Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker, "Margaret Atwood Expands the World of “The Handmaid’s Tale”," 5 Sep. 2019 After the superstar forward came under fire for his elaborate diving, faking and playacting during Brazil’s round of 16 victory over Mexico, Brazilians have closed ranks around one of their most cherished sons. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Brazil is desperately trying to coddle Neymar, whose talent outweighs dramatic antics," 5 July 2018 If the devil’s advocate playacts disagreement with you for the sake of strengthening your argument, the concern troll is his mirror image, a person who pretends to agree with you in order to undermine you. Nitsuh Abebe, New York Times, "Why Have We Soured on the ‘Devil’s Advocate’?," 3 Apr. 2018 In 2017, Trump’s previous pro-wrestling playacting dovetails neatly, and in gif form, with an attack on the Fourth Estate. Adrienne Lafrance, The Atlantic, "Conspiracy Theories Are for Underdogs," 22 Oct. 2017 In one of the most poignant scenes in the documentary, Brown and Houston are seen playacting scenes from What's Love Got to Do With It in their hotel room. Cady Lang, Time, "4 Things We Learned From the New Documentary About Whitney Houston," 18 Aug. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'playact.' 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 playact

1856, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for playact

back-formation from playacting

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about playact

Time Traveler for playact

Time Traveler

The first known use of playact was in 1856

See more words from the same year

Statistics for playact

Last Updated

13 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Playact.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 19 January 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on playact

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with playact

Comments on playact

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


to insert between existing elements

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Eponym Quiz

  • rubens painting
  • Which is the best synonym of bowdlerize?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

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!