The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Play \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,
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. --Chaucer.
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
"Nay," quod this monk, "I have no lust to pleye."
Men are apt to play with their healths. --Sir W.
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
One that . . . can play well on an instrument.
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
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.
All fame is foreign but of true desert,
Plays round the head, but comes not to the heart.
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.
(b) To use in a droll manner; to give a droll expression
or application to; as, to play upon words.