Educational CyberPlayGround ®

Definitions of the Word Play


(Urban PlayGrounds)


  1. play by electronic mail
    <games> A kind of game where the players use electronic mail to communicate. This may be done via a human moderator or an automatic mailing list exploder on some central machine or it may be fully distributed with each player just addressing his mail to all other players.
    This is a natural extension of "play by mail" games conducted via snail mail.
    MORE. Usenet newsgroup:
  2. Inglish
    <games> An English-like language used for Adventure games like "The Hobbit". Inglish could distinguish between "take the rope and axe" and "take the money and run". (27 Jun 1995)
  3. playground
    A visual language for children, developed for Apple's Vivarium Project. OOPSLA 89 or 90?
  4. playpen (IBM) A room where programmers work.
  5. salt mines
    Dense quarters housing large numbers of programmers working long hours on grungy projects, with some hope of seeing the end of the tunnel in N years. Noted for their absence of sunshine. Compare playpen, sandbox.
  6. Play (Page: 1097)
    Play (?), v. i. [imp. & p. p. Played (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Playing.]
    [OE. pleien, AS. plegian, plegan, to play, akin to plega play, game, quick motion, and probably to OS.
    plegan to promise, pledge, D. plegen to care for, attend to, be wont, G. pflegen; of unknown origin. root;28. Cf. Plight, n.]
  • 1. To engage in sport or lively recreation; to exercise for the sake of amusement; to frolic; to spot.
    As Cannace was playing in her walk.
    The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to-day, Had he thy reason, would he skip and play! Pope.
    And some, the darlings of their Lord, Play smiling with the flame and sword. Keble.
  • 2. To act with levity or thoughtlessness; to trifle; to be careless.
    Nay," quod this monk, I have no lust to pleye." Chaucer.
    Men are apt to play with their healths. Sir W. Temple.
  • 3. To contend, or take part, in a game; as, to play ball; hence, to gamble; as, he played for heavy stakes.
  • 4. To perform on an instrument of music; as, to play on a flute.
    One that . . . can play well on an instrument. Ezek. xxxiii. 32.
    Play, my friend, and charm the charmer. Granville.
  • 5. To act; to behave; to practice deception.
    His mother played false with a smith. Shak.
  • 6. To move in any manner; especially, to move regularly with alternate or reciprocating motion; to operate; to act; as, the fountain plays.
    The heart beats, the blood circulates, the lungs play. Cheyne.
  • 7. To move gayly; to wanton; to disport.
    Even as the waving sedges play with wind. Shak.
    The setting sun Plays on their shining arms and burnished helmets. Addison.
    All fame is foreign but of true desert, Plays round the head, but comes not to the heart. Pope.
  • 8. To act on the stage; to personate a character.
    A lord will hear your play to-night. Shak.
    Courts are theaters where some men play. Donne.
  • To play into a person's hands, to act, or to manage matters, to his advantage or benefit.
    -- To play off, to affect; to feign; to practice artifice.
    -- To play upon.
    (a) To make sport of; to deceive.
    Art thou alive? Or is it fantasy that plays upon our eyesight. Shak.
    (b) To use in a droll manner; to give a droll expression or application to; as, to play upon words.

Play (Page: 1097)

Play, v. t.

  • 1. To put in action or motion; as, to play cannon upon a fortification; to play a trump.
    First Peace and Silence all disputes control, Then Order plays the soul. Herbert.
  • 2. To perform music upon; as, to play the flute or the organ.
  • 3. To perform, as a piece of music, on an instrument; as, to play a waltz on the violin.
  • 4. To bring into sportive or wanton action; to exhibit in action; to execute; as, to play tricks.
    Nature here Wantoned as in her prime, and played at will Her virgin fancies. Milton.
  • 5. To act or perform (a play); to represent in music action; as, to play a comedy; also, to act in the character of; to represent by acting; to simulate; to behave like; as, to play King Lear; to play the woman.
    Thou canst play the rational if thou wilt. Sir W. Scott.
  • 6. To engage in, or go together with, as a contest for amusement or for a wager or prize; as, to play a game at baseball.
  • 7. To keep in play, as a hooked fish, in order to land it. To play off, to display; to show; to put in exercise; as, to play off tricks.
    -- To play one's cards, to manage one's means or opportunities; to contrive. -- Played out, tired out; exhausted; at the end of one's resources. [Colloq.]

Play (Page: 1097)

Play, n.

  • 1. Amusement; sport; frolic; gambols.
  • 2. Any exercise, or series of actions, intended for amusement or diversion; a game.
    John naturally loved rough play. Arbuthnot.
  • 3. The act or practice of contending for victory, amusement, or a prize, as at dice, cards, or billiards; gaming; as, to lose a fortune in play.
  • 4. Action; use; employment; exercise; practice; as, fair play; sword play; a play of wit. The next who comes in play." Dryden.
  • 5. A dramatic composition; a comedy or tragedy; a composition in which characters are represented by dialogue and action.
    A play ought to be a just image of human nature. Dryden.
  • 6. The representation or exhibition of a comedy or tragedy; as, he attends ever play.
  • 7. Performance on an instrument of music.
  • 8. Motion; movement, regular or irregular; as, the play of a wheel or piston; hence, also, room for motion; free and easy action. To give them play, front and rear." Milton.
    The joints are let exactly into one another, that they have no play between them. Moxon.
  • 9. Hence, liberty of acting; room for enlargement or display; scope; as, to give full play to mirth. Play actor, an actor of dramas.
  • Prynne. -- Play debt, a gambling debt.
  • Arbuthnot. -- Play pleasure, idle amusement. [Obs.]
  • Bacon.
    -- A play upon words, the use of a word in such a way as to be capable of double meaning; punning.
    -- Play of colors, prismatic variation of colors.
    -- To bring into play, To come into play, to bring or come into use or exercise.
    -- To hold in play, to keep occupied or employed.
  • Macaulay --I, with two more to help me, Will hold the foe in play.

Generated on: Sat Mar 29 09:26:49 CST 1997
Mark Olsen, ARTFL Project, mark at
Gavin LaRowe, ARTFL Project, gavin at


  1. * word play -- (playing on words or speech sounds)
  2. * pun, punning, wordplay -- (a humorous play on words; ``I do it for the pun of it'' )
  3. looseness, play -- (movement or space for movement; ``there was too much play in the steering wheel'' )
  4. * wiggliness
  5. * slack, slackness

play, child's play -- play by children that is guided more by imagination than by fixed rules; ``Freud believed in the utility of play to a small child''

  1. * house -- (play in which children take the roles of father or mother or children and pretend to interact like adults; ``the children were playing house'' )
  2. * doctor -- children take the roles of doctor or patient or nurse and pretend they are at the doctor's office; ``the children explored each other's bodies by playing the game of doctor''
  3. * fireman -- (play in which children take the roles of firemen and pretend to put out a fire)
    maneuver, manoeuvre, play -- (a deliberate coordinated movement requiring dexterity and skill; ``he made a great play'' )
  4. play -- a theatrical performance of a drama; ``the play lasted two hours''
  5. * musical, musical comedy, musical theater play,
    drama -- (a dramatic work intended for performance by actors on a stage;
  6. * playlet -- (a short play)
  7. * morality play -- an allegorical play popular in the 15th and 16th centuries; characters personified virtues and vices
  8. turn, play -- the activity of doing something in an agreed succession; ``it is my turn" or "it is still my play''
  9. play --(the act using a sword (or other weapon) vigorously and skillfully