Green’s Dictionary of Slang

play (at)... v.

[16C+] a phr. used in various combs. as synons. for having sexual intercourse, e.g. play at brangle, ...bouncy-bouncy, ...buttock, ...hot cockles, ...leapfrog, ...mumble-peg, ...prick the garter, ...pully-hauly, ...put in all, ...stable my naggie, ...thread the needle, ...tops and bottoms, ...top sawyer, ...where the Jack takes Ace, ...pyrdewy; see also below and at individual nouns for more phrs.

In phrases

play a game single-hand (v.)

[early 16C; mid-18C] to have sexual intercourse.

play a little five-on-one (v.) [five fingers, one penis or vagina]

[20C+] to masturbate.

play a mouth organ (v.) (also play a piccolo)

[1960s+] (US) to perform oral sex.

play at Adam and Eve (v.)

[18C–19C] to have sexual intercourse.

play at all fours (v.) [note Cotton’s description in The Compleat Gamester (1674): ‘This game [...] is called All-Fours from Highest, Lowest, Jack and Game’, all of which terms can be taken as double entendres]

[late 17C–19C] to have sexual intercourse.

play at belly-to-belly (v.) (also turn belly to belly)

[late 16C–1960s] to have sexual intercourse.

play at blindman’s buff (v.)

[17C] to have sexual intercourse.

play at bo-peep (v.) [SE bo-peep, a nursery game in which one amuses a child by hiding (usu. the face), revealing, then repeating the process]

[late 16C–early 18C] to have sexual intercourse.

play at buttock and leave her (v.)

[late 17C–mid-18C] to have sexual intercourse.

play at cherry pit (v.) [SE cherry pit, the chewy stone]

[17C–19C] to have sexual intercourse.

play at cock in cover (v.) [pun on SE play cock, to display oneself/cock n.3 (1)]

[late 19C] to have sexual intercourse.

play at couch quail (v.)

[16C] to have sexual intercourse .

play at couple your navels (v.)

[18C] to have sexual intercourse.

play (at) cuddle my cuddie (v.) [SE cuddle + dial. cuddy, a woman]

[mid-17C–early 18C] to have sexual intercourse.

play (at) fathers and mothers (v.) (also play (at) dads and mums, ...doctors and nurses, ...mothers and fathers, ...mummies and daddies) [the adult version of children’s sex games, the main one being playing doctors and nurses]

[late 19C+] to have sexual intercourse.

play at grapple-my-belly (v.)

[late 19C–1900s] to have sexual intercourse.

play at handie dandie (v.) [Scot./SE handie-dandy, a children’s game based on the rapid moving of an object from one hand to another, then back]

[16C] (Scot.) to have sexual intercourse.

play at hooper’s hide (v.) (also play at hoop and hide) [SE hooper’s hide, hide-and-seek]

[late 17C] to have sexual intercourse.

play at houghmagandie (v.) [SE/Scot. hough = hock = back of the knee + Scot. canty, cheerful, active]

[late 18C+] to have sexual intercourse.

play (at) in and in (v.) (also throw in and in) [Nares, Glossary (1822): ‘in-and-in. A gambling game, played by three persons with four dice, each person having a box. It was the common diversion at ordinaries, and places of inferior resort [...] it appears that in was, when there was a doublet, or two dice alike out of the four; in and in when there were either two doublets, or all four dice alike, which swept the stake’]

[late 16C–19C] to have sexual intercourse.

play at in and out (v.)

[17C] to have sexual intercourse.

play (at) itch-buttocks (v.)

[late 16C–19C] to have sexual intercourse.

play (at) level-coil (v.) [SE level-coil, any form of rough game, spec. that once played at Christmas (an embryo form of musical chairs) in which each player is in turn driven from their seat and replaced by another; Fr. (faire) lever la cul (à quelqu’un), to make someone raise their buttocks, properly ‘arse’; also found in Ital. as levaculo]

[late 16C–17C] to have sexual intercourse; also as n. level-coil, sexual intercourse.

play at potfinger (v.) [one sticks one’s finger in her ‘pot’/pot n.1 (1); the vagina sense is slightly later, but the generic pot, a woman, fits the chronology]

[late 16C] to stimulate the vagina with the fingers.

play at push-pin (v.) (also play at push-a-pike, ...put-pin) [push v. (1) + pin n. (1a); + pun on children’s game push-pin or put-pin, in which each player pushes or fillips their pin with the object of crossing that of another player]

[17C–mid-19C] to have sexual intercourse; thus game of push-pin n., sexual intercourse.

play at the close-buttock game (v.) (also play at the brangle-buttock game)

[mid-17C–19C] to have sexual intercourse.

play (at) two-handed put (v.) [pun on put = Fr. putain, prostitute]

[18C–early 19C] to have sexual intercourse.

In phrases

play carnival (v.) [‘guess-my-weight’ competitions were a fairground attraction]

[1940s+] of a woman, to position one’s vagina directly above one’s partner’s mouth, either literally sitting or squatting above their face, in order to facilitate cunnilingus.

play checkers (v.) [the movements in checkers (UK: draughts)]

[1940s+] (US gay) to move from seat to seat in a cinema in search of a receptive sex partner.

play chopsticks (v.) [joc. use of ‘Chopsticks’, a basic piece learnt by a novice piano-player]

[1940s+] (orig. gay) to indulge in mutual masturbation.

play fast and loose with a woman’s apron-strings (v.)

[17C] to have sexual intercourse.

play hey gammer cook (v.) (also play hey gaffer cook, ...gammer cook, ...high gammer cook) [? dial. gammocks, wild play]

[late 17C–mid-18C] to have sexual intercourse; thus as n. hey gammer cook.

play hoop-snake with (v.)

[1940s–70s] (gay) for two homosexual men to indulge in mutual fellatio.

play Mr Wobbly hides his helmet (v.)

[1990s+] to have sexual intercourse.

play night baseball (v.)

[1960s+] to have sexual intercourse.

play nug a nug (v.) [nug v.]

[early 17C] to caress, to fondle; to have sexual intercourse.

play pickle-me-tickle-me (v.) (also play at prickle-me-tickle-me)

[mid-17C–early 18C] to have sexual intercourse.

play solitaire (v.)

[1930s–70s] to masturbate.

play the first game ever played (v.)

[19C] to have sexual intercourse.

play three to one (and sure to lose) (v.) [three, the penis and testes, and one, the vagina; what the man is sure to lose is semen]

[late 18C–19C] of a man, to have sexual intercourse.

play tickle-tail (v.)

[1940s] to have sexual intercourse.

play tickle the pickle (v.)

[20C+] (US) to have sexual intercourse.

play touchy-touchy (v.)

[1980s] (US) to indulge in sexual fondling.

play with oneself (v.)

[late 19C+] to masturbate.