Green’s Dictionary of Slang

play it... v.

to act in a given manner, defined by an adj.

[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘Before the War’ in Digger Smith 15: First off, young Jim, ’oo plays it ’igh a bit, / Narks the ole man.
[UK]A. Christie Mysterious Affair at Styles (1954) 151: I say, that’s playing it a bit low down.
[UK]Wodehouse Carry on, Jeeves 38: It struck me that it was playing it a bit low-down on the poor chap.
[UK]P. Cheyney Dames Don’t Care (1960) 60: Swell, Langdon. Okie-doke. An’ I play it the way we said.
[US]R. Chandler Little Sister 182: It will be a week from Tuesday before he decides how to play it.
[US]‘Hal Ellson’ Tomboy (1952) 115: Play it smart. You can always talk your way out of a corner.
[UK]Oh Boy! No. 17 10: So you want to play it rough, huh?
[US]E. Hunter Blackboard Jungle 45: Dig this cat. He’s playin’ it hard.
[UK](con. 1940s) D. MacCuish Do Not Go Gentle (1962) 93: Play it loose back in there, Helen!
[UK]R. Cook Crust on its Uppers 47: He plays it very cagey.
[US]J. Rechy City of Night 34: I determined that from now on I would play it dumb.
[US]M. Braly On the Yard (2002) 237: There’s still every reason to wait that there was when we decided that’s how we’d play it.
[US]P. Thomas Down These Mean Streets (1970) 316: If I was gonna cop a plea to God, I couldn’t play it cheap.
[US]B. Moyers Listening to America 238: I’m really playing it straight.
[UK]C. Dexter Service of all the Dead (1980) 154: Let’s play it safe, Lewis. We really don’t want any more corpses.
[US]J. Wambaugh Secrets of Harry Bright (1986) 194: Sidney Blackpool looked at Otto who’d been a cop long enough to play it like aces wired.
[US]C. Hiaasen Skin Tight 61: The kids from the project glanced at one another, trying to guess how they should play it.
[US]B. Gifford Night People 5: You got to play it that way till you can’t play it no more.
[US]‘Randy Everhard’ Tattoo of a Naked Lady 59: This was the first and last time I ever play it on the level.
[UK]L. Theroux Call of the Weird (2006) 197: He was trying to go straight. ‘I been playing it under the radar,’ he said.