To move lightly and quickly; move with a brisk, lively, and more or less irregular and capricious motion, as water in waves or in a fountain, light and shadow on agitated water, leaves in the wind, tremulous flames, etc.; flutter; flicker; dart; dance; in mech., to move freely.To engage in active exercise; exercise or contend in any way, but especially with weapons; technically, to contend with swords or sticks; fence: said of persons.To contend in a game of skill or chance: as, to play at chess or cards; specifically, to gamble.To engage in exercise or occupation of any kind for diversion, amusement, or recreation; amuse one's self, as with games or diversion, or with any occupation which is not a task or for profit; sport; frolic; gambol.To take part in a game or games; join in sport or frolic: as, to play with the children.To act thoughtlessly or wantonly; trifle; toy; dally.To act; behave; deal: as, to play fair or false.To act on the stage; personate a character.To perform on an instrument of music: as, to play on a flute or a violin.To operate or act with continuous blows or strokes, or with repeated action: as, the cannon played on the enemy's works; the firemen played upon the burning building.To give a humorous or fanciful turn to: as, to play upon words.To play (music) more vigorously.Synonyms To gambol, romp, caper, frisk.To divert or amuse with or as with sports or pastimes: used reflexively.To take part as a contestant in (a game or pastime engaged in at a particular time and place); also, to be in the habit of engaging in (a particular kind of game), be able to join in (it), or be skilled in (it): as, to play a rubber of whist; to play a round of golf; he does not play chess, but he can play billiards.To engage in a game, contest, or competition with.To put forward, move, throw, or lay on the table, etc., in carrying on a game or contest: as, play a swift ball: to play the knave of clubs.To use as a plaything; trifle or fool with.To manœuver; handle or play with, as a hooked fish in angling.To produce music from; perform upon: as, to play the flute or the organ.To perform on a musical instrument; execute: as, to play a tune.To operate or cause to operate with continuous or repeated action; put into and keep in action: as, to play the hose on a burning building.To give out or discharge freely: as, to play a steady stream.To perform or act on the stage; represent in character with appropriate action and accessories: as, to play a comedy.To take or assume the rôle of; act the part or perform the duties of; act or behave like: as, to play Hamlet; to play the tyrant; to play the hostess.To do; operate; enact; perform: as, to play tricks; to play a part.To use; apply; ply.To make a pretense of; make believe: as, children play being devoured by lions.Exhausted and brought to land or killed, as a fish that has been played.n. Brisk or free motion; movement, whether regular or irregular: as, the play of water in a fountain; the play of a wheel or piston; hence, freedom or room for motion.n. Liberty and room for action or display; scope; swing; ease or freedom in performance.n. Action; use; employment.n. Active exercise; especially, exercise in trial of skill: as, sword-play.n. Any exercise intended for recreation, amusement, or pleasure; a game or sport, such as cricket, foot-ball, curling, skittles, quoits, graces, etc.n. Amusement, diversion, recreation, or pastime; sport; frolic; fun; merry-making: as, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”n. Fun; jest; sport: opposed to earnest: as, it was done in play.n. Gaming; the practice of contending for amusement, or for wager, as at dice, cards, billiards, etc.: as, to lose money at play.n. A dramatic composition; a literary composition in which characters are represented by dialogue and action; a written tragedy, comedy, or other such production intended for representation on the stage.n. Representation or exhibition of a comedy, tragedy, or other form of drama; dramatic performance.n. Style or manner of playing; style of performing or executing a play or game; execution; performance; skill: as, he made clever play with the foils.n. Manner of acting or dealing, or of treating another: as, fair play; foul play.n. A country wake.n. Pastime.A variant of plaw.To follow another successfully, with apparent sympathy, in his vein or mood from the theatrical use.In base-ball, foot-ball, and similar games, to place (a player) in a certain position.To accompany in action with music.n. A method or manner of performing on a musical instrument, especially as regards the action of the hands. See close play.n. The act or an act of playing (in a game); a separate act of playing.