as in to mock
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 & Similar Words

as in to put
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 & Similar Words


2 of 2


as in drama
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 & Similar Words

as in use
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 & Similar Words

Antonyms & Near Antonyms


Synonym Chooser

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

Thesaurus Entries Near play

Cite this Entry

“Play.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/play. Accessed 27 Nov. 2022.

More from Merriam-Webster on play

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
Spell It

Hear a word and type it out. How many can you get right?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.