Thesaurus

play

verb

Synonyms & Antonyms of play

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 to engage in activity for amusement
  • told her son that he needed some time to run and play in the yard after his hard work

Synonyms for play

Words Related to play

Near Antonyms for play

2 to present a portrayal or performance of
  • played Hamlet in the campus production of the classic

Synonyms for play

Words Related to play

3 to pretend to be (what one is not) in appearance or behavior
  • stop playing the innocent, because I know that you were behind that prank

Synonyms for play

Words Related to play

4 to spend time in aimless activity
  • just played around while we waited for the bus to arrive

Synonyms for play

Words Related to play

Near Antonyms for play

5 to deal with (something) usually skillfully or efficiently
  • this is how we're going to play the situation

Synonyms for play

Words Related to play

Phrases Synonymous with play

Near Antonyms for play

6 to risk (something) on the outcome of an uncertain event
  • figuring that she had little to lose, she played her last few bucks on the state lottery

Synonyms for play

Words Related to play

play

noun

Synonyms & Antonyms of play (Entry 2 of 2)

2 a written work in which the story is told through speech and action that is intended to be acted out on stage
  • we'll be putting on a school play using that stage

Synonyms for play

Words Related to play

3 an attitude or manner not to be taken seriously
  • I didn't mean to insult anyone, for it was all just play

Synonyms for play

Words Related to play

Near Antonyms for play

Antonyms for play

4 the act or practice of employing something for a particular purpose
  • the host's sense of humor was obviously in play during the awards ceremony

Synonyms for play

Words Related to play

Near Antonyms for play

5 a clever often underhanded means to achieve an end
  • the guy at the bar made an unusually creative play to get her phone number

Synonyms for play

Words Related to play

Phrases Synonymous with play

See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About play

How does the noun play differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of play are fun, game, jest, and sport. While all these words mean "action or speech that provides amusement or arouses laughter," play stresses the opposition to earnest without implying any malice or mischief.

pretended to strangle his brother in play

In what contexts can fun take the place of play?

While the synonyms fun and play are close in meaning, fun usually implies laughter or gaiety but may imply merely a lack of serious or ulterior purpose.

played cards just for fun

How do game and sport relate to one another, in the sense of play?

Game is close to sport, and often stresses mischievous or malicious fun.

made game of their poor relations

When can jest be used instead of play?

While in some cases nearly identical to play, jest implies lack of earnestness and may suggest a hoaxing or teasing.

hurt by remarks said only in jest

When would sport be a good substitute for play?

Although the words sport and play have much in common, sport applies especially to the arousing of laughter against someone.

teasing begun in sport led to anger

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about play

Time Traveler for play

Time Traveler

The first known use of play was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Cite this Entry

“Play.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/play. Accessed 29 Sep. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on play

Dictionary: Definition of play

Nglish: Translation of play for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of play for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about play

Comments on play

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

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!