Phrasal Verbs Using 'Play'

Play about

Be sexually promiscuous or unfaithful

Example:She PLAYED ABOUT before she got married.

Play along

Pretend to agree or accept something in order to keep someone happy or to get more information

Example:I disagreed with the idea but I had to PLAY ALONG because everyone else liked it.

Play around

Be silly

Example:The children were PLAYING AROUND and being annoying.

Play around

Be sexually promiscuous or unfaithful

Example:I PLAYED AROUND a lot at college.

Play at

Pretend to be something

Example:He just PLAYS AT being a lawyer- he never wins a case.

Play away

Be sexually unfaithful when away from home

Example:He travels abroad a lot and his wife thinks he PLAYS AWAY.

Play back

Listen to or watch something you've recorded

Example:We PLAYED the recording BACK to see if it was OK.

Play down

Try to make something seem less important

Example:The Government has tried to PLAY DOWN the importance of the minister's resignation.

Play off

Play a game to decide who the winner is

Example:As both teams had the same points, they PLAYED OFF to decide the winner.

Play off

Make people compete against each other so that you benefit

Example:He PLAYED them OFF against each other to get the best deal.

Play on

Continue playing a sport though there might be a reason to stop

Example:It looked like a foul, but the referee told them to PLAY ON.

Play on

Continue playing music

Example:The band PLAYED ON for another hour.

Play on

Exploit a weakness

Example:They are just PLAYING ON our fears to get us to do what they want.

Play on


Example:The advert PLAYS ON the slogan

Play out

Progress, often till it finishes

Example:Let's see how things PLAY OUT.

Play out

Pretend that something is real and reduce its effect

Example:Computer games allow people to PLAY OUT their violent urges.

Play out

Play something to the end

Example:Rain stopped them PLAYING the game OUT.

Play out

Unwind (e.g., fishing line)

Example:When he hooked the swordfish, his line rapidly PLAYED OUT.

Play up

Behave badly

Example:The children PLAYED UP all evening and drove the babysitter mad.

Play up to

Flatter someone

Example:I'm PLAYING UP TO my boss at the moment because I want the promotion.

Play up to

Behave in a way expected

Example:He's got a reputation for being trouble and PLAYS UP TO it.

Play upon

Exploit a weakness

Example:They are PLAYING UPON people's concerns to get their way.

Play with

Touch and move something to occupy your hands

Example:He can't stop PLAYING WITH his beard.

Play with

Not eat much of a meal

Example:I wasn't hungry, so I just PLAYED WITH the food.

Play with

Consider something, but not seriously

Example:We PLAYED WITH the idea, but decided against it.