1. sexual activity; flirtation.
|The Boke of Mayd Emlyn line 188: And the best sporte That sholde me comforte, Whiche is a swete playe, I can it not haue.|
|Verse Libel 73: A wanton burde the which in Cage I silde [i.e. sealed] / More for her nyce playe than to here her syng.‘Wanton Bird’ in May & Bryson|
|Bondman II ii: Fie on these warres, I am staru’d for want of action, not a gamester left To keepe a woman play.|
|Parliament of Ladies 13: Sir John Suckling was dead, but truly shee lik’d his play well.|
|‘Song’ Covent Garden Drollery 39: Agreed we lay’d down and tumbled Till both were weary of play, Though I spent a full share, Yet by Cupid I swear, I came off with a ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.|
|Empress of Morocco Prologue: Then hungry jilt that rails at Play, ’Cause Cully will not bite to day, And’s eager grown for want of prey.|
|‘The Toothless Bride’ in Bagford Ballads (1878) I 26: I know your young men can’t forbare, / But soon must be at the Play.|
|York Spy 67: She takes delight to Laugh, Play, Dance, or Sing, Will Kiss, Hug, Promise, nay, Do any Thing. [...] But Laugh and Lye down is her common Play.|
|Laugh and Be Fat 127: But laugh and lye down are her common play; / At Draughts or Tables she’ll engage with any, / Only she’s apt to bear a Man too many.|
|Anster Fair V xlviii 121: Lay Tommy Puck [...] And Mrs Puck his gentle lady dear, / Basking and lolling in the lunar ray / And tumbling up and down in brisk fantastic play.|
|‘The Gown Of Green’ Gentleman’s Spicey Songster 22: The jade she was devilish fond of the play, / Dragging, shagging, whisky, frisky.|
|Bulletin Reciter n.p.: So seein’s how Jim made no play / ‘D’yer love me?’ she asks him one day.‘Dunno‘ in|
|Idiot’s Delight 145: You know that Wop that was giving me a play last night?|
|in Limerick (1953) 277: While I’ll own that stinkfinger’s amusing, / Still, this constant delay / Tends to hold up the play, / And this goom on the deck’s most confusing.|
|Manchild in the Promised Land (1969) 214: Broadway likes him and thinks he might be able to get a play out of him now and then.|
|Animal Factory 131: You hear what I said in there ? . . . I wanna play from you.|
|‘Zulu Nation Throwndown’ [lyrics] Why don’t you chill out, just give me a play.|
|Campus Sl. Nov. 6: play – attention. ‘What happened to the girl he was trying to talk to?’ ‘Man, she wouldn’t give him no play.’.|
|(con. 1970s) King Suckerman (1998) 50: Man gets all that play, you think he’d smile.|
|Conversation with the Mann 83: The wolves were constantly circling, eager to get a little play.|
|Corruption Officer [ebk] cap. 2: The fine chicks [...] would not give a young brother, like myself, any play.|
2. any form of action, plan or scheme.
|View of Society II 107: He had put a whole bottle of rum into the tea-kettle; from which she poured out a quantity [...] and continued pouring and tasting alternately, until she had completely napt the suck, and then the play began.|
|Oliver Twist (1966) 239: If there is any deep play here, I shall have it out of you, my girl, cunning as you are.|
|Lantern (N.O.) 19 Mar. 2: I’m scared to say whether john Fitzpatrick is in on the play or not.|
|Wolfville 126: After hangin’ up this bluff the Dallas sharp [...] leaves us to size up the play at out leesure.|
|Shorty McCabe 52: Next I see him make the only fool play but one that I ever knew the Boss to make.|
|Brand Blotters (1912) 36: I see. I’m a waddy and a thief, but you’re going to protect me for old time’s sake. That’s the play, is it?|
|Continental Op (1975) 21: The list was faked up, put in the wallet with the clippings and twenty dollars — to make the play stronger.‘The Tenth Clew’ in|
|‘Snowbound’ in Gangster Stories Oct. n.p.: ‘Want me to — tip your play to the cops?’.|
|Pulp Fiction (2006) 15: His best play was to take the air.‘One, Two, Three’ in Penzler|
|Sudden Takes the Trail 103: I’m with you all the way, but it seemed an easy play.|
|Crazy Kill 134: There was some stud leaning out of Big Joe’s bedroom window watching the play.|
|Thief’s Primer 90: In Texas [...] they don’t try to hedge their bet. Whenever there’s a play come up, they just go ahead and take their play right then.|
|Dopefiend (1991) 80: It’s your play, honey.|
|Runnin’ Down Some Lines 89: The play [...] means both the interaction between male and female prior to sex — or whatever is then occurring — the action of the moment.|
|Yardie 32: This was the first play and he had to be sharp.|
|Right As Rain 321: For obvious reasons, they don’t want too much play on this bad-cop thing.|
|Broken 4: Passed up the small shit, waited for Oscar to make his big play.‘Broken’ in|
3. the situation, the state of affairs.
|Robbery Under Arms (1922) 109: Make tracks for the Hollow afore daylight and keep dark till we know how the play goes.|
|Fables in Sl. (1902) 52: Moral: If it is your Play to be a Hero, don’t Renig.|
|Confessions of a Detective 78: Everybody who ought to investigate it was in on the play.|
|My Life in Prison 124: Her mother got on t’ th’ play an’ it seemed t’ please her.|
|Red Wind (1946) 173: That’s why we’re going to talk it over. It’s not a shooting play.‘Goldfish’ in|
|Scrambled Yeggs 5: After a bright play like this I knew it couldn’t be brains; it was either blood or sawdust.|
|Girls on the Rampage 35: This old buzzard’s a real weirdie. He don’t get the play at all.|
|Executioner (1973) 86: Well, Chuck, it looks like you’ve called the play on this thing.|
|Go-Boy! 39: The roof picket had spotted the whole play.|
|Vinnie Got Blown Away 59: So what was the play? Vinnie got blown away. He got on someone’s stash, tried a sideline. It was theirs, Vinnie wanted a little.|
4. (orig. US) a show of interest, patronage, publicity; a chance; thus give (it/one) a play v., to try out, to give a chance.
|Artie (1963) 16: I’ve made the play at the old folks, on the square.|
|Beef, Iron and Wine (1917) 160: The help-yourself room must ‘a’ been gettin’ a great play.‘Canada Kid’ in|
|Story Omnibus (1966) 77: I gave that section of the hill a good strong play.‘The Scorched Face’|
|Runyon on Broadway (1954) 33: Everybody goes to the Chicken Club now and then to give Tony Bertazzola, the owner, a friendly play.‘Romance in the Roaring Forties’ in|
|Big Clock (2002) 103: If we wanted to break it, we’d give it a big play.|
|Long Wait (1954) 49: Most of the places were just starting to get a play and before the hour was out they’d be packed.|
|Cop Team 141: I was really trying to help you guys [...] Isn’t that worth a play?|
|Brown’s Requiem 140: I was getting a bad play from the manager.|
|Prison Sl. 22: Play is used when someone is requesting leniency in court or in prison for a violation of prison rules — as in: ‘I hope I get some play tomorrow in court.’.|
5. (US Und.) the performance of a single confidence trick, esp. one which requires substantial preparation, props etc.
|Boss 300: That check-cashing racket was a case of flam; there was a hold-out that went with that play.|
|Mr. Jackson 44: I don’t know how you got wise to our play, but I s’pose somebody squealed.|
|Big Con 16: It could not be knocked down and concealed between plays.|
|‘Double Take’ in Best of Manhunt (2019) [ebook] The old con play; give the mark a glimpse of something he wants bad, then make him think he can have it for little or nothing, tighten the screws. A good con-man can tie up a mark so tight that normal reasoning powers go out the window.|
|Get Your Ass in the Water (1974) 85: An old squarejohn seen the play come off and he run and told the men.|
6. (US) way of life, well-being.
|Runyon on Broadway (1954) 300: It is up to him to handle all her play.‘Little Miss Marker’ in|
7. (US black) a form of greeting that involves the slapping of palms [note 9C–14C SE play, to clap the hands].
|Black Jargon in White America 75: play n. 1. a greeting in which a person slaps another’s palms.|
(US) to support one’s own statement or action or those of another person in some way.
|Case studies in the Psychopathology of Crime 126: If this man can take four hundred dollars in one day from punch boards, he will have plenty of money to back up his play in cour.|
|Bent Twig 23: He told her he was in a jam and asked her to back up his play and say that she’d been in the car with him.|
|Blaine’s Law 85: It was a long shot, but he figured he could back up his play.|
|Go-Boy! 63: I wanted a guide and a friend who would back up my play.|
|Calder Sky 469: Nate was offended that Chase would suggest he wasn’t going to back up his play.|
|Hard Land 71: Tetlow didn’t own his land [...] but seemed to figure to squat and back up his play with guns.|
|Texan 128: Deemin’, rightly, that it wasn’t a shootin’ matter, he ondertook to back up his play with his fists, and he hauled off an’ smote me between the eyes.|
1. to express sexual interest in, to flirt with.
|Prison Days and Nights 205: She’s about the hottest thing they ever saw round here. Believe me, there were plenty of guys giving Estelle a play.|
|Bullets For The Bridegroom (1953) 27: One of them was run by a henna-haired female with a hard face who was getting a play from three or four night-owls when Whit arrived.|
|Thrilling Detective Winter [Internet] I don’t like this dame who wouldn’t give me a play.‘The Ice Man Came’ in|
|Rage in Harlem (1969) 113: He just wanted to give the girl a play.|
|Vulture (1996) 24: John had been after Deb for almost a year, but she would never give him a play.|
|‘Use Me Up’ [lyrics] All the girls wanna know why I won’t give ’em the play.|
|‘Lodi Dodi’ [lyrics] Why don’t you give me a play / So we can break it down the Long Beach way.|
|Right As Rain 178: And to make things worse, the woman he was with, she hadn’t even given him any play.|
2. to give someone a chance; to make a deal with.
|AS IX:1 26: give someone a play. To try to gain someone’s confidence.‘Prison Parlance’ in|
|DAUL 81/2: Give a play. [...] 3. To try to gain the confidence of an intended victim.et al.|
|Burn, Killer, Burn! 130: I was just tryin’ to make a little bread [...] so give me a play, huh?|
|Street Players 149 Whatever happens, I’m going to give you a play.|
3. in fig. use, to frequent (and spend money).
|DAUL 81/2: Give a play. 2. To patronize. ‘I hear there’s a lot of new hustlers (prostitutes) in that nautch-joint (brothel) around the corner. Let’s give it a play.’.et al.|
|‘Bill and Lil’ in Life (1976) 121: Girl, you swore you’d write me each day / And fix it so I’d give the commissary a steady play.et al.|
(US black) to inform.
|Runnin’ Down Some Lines 240: give the Man the play Inform the police about another’s activities or moves.|
1. to act in a demonstrative, theatrical manner.
|Virginian 188: Trampas made an awful bad play then.|
|Long Good-Bye 217: Did you hide the gun I told you about? You know, the morning after he made that play upstairs.|
|Shame the Devil 133: He made a play on the shooters, and they got the draw on him first.|
2. to pretend, esp. in an ‘obvious’ manner.
|John Henry 15: I don’t know enough about French to find Paris on the map [...] But I’m thinking of my dear departed ten, so I makes the play!|
|Dames Don’t Care (1960) 14: Make a big play that you are goin’ to Mexico.|
1. to make sexual advances towards someone, to attempt seduction.
|Stories of Chinatown 52: The boys were constantly making play for her.|
|Checkers 117: Before long she’ll make a play at you – give her the frozen face.|
|Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 87: She had once made a play for the Swede.|
|Beef, Iron and Wine (1917) 97: This goof made a play for me in the rest’rant. I never gave him a tumble.‘If a Party Meet a Party’ in|
|Pleasure Man (1997) II i: If you weren’t so dumb you’d see that Terrill’s making a play for Dolores.|
|Dark Hazard (1934) 108: Eddie had made a strong play for Valery and had merely been laughed at.|
|Capricornia (1939) 239: I, poor lonely man, mek leetla play with half-breed maid.|
|Runyon à la Carte 173: ‘So,’ he says, ‘you are making a play for my wife, are you, scoundrel?’.|
|From Here to Eternity (1998) 828: You’ve done nothing for the past three weeks but [...] make a big play for Georgette.|
|‘The Fall’ in Life (1976) 80: I curse the day I made my play / For that sidewalk Jezebel.et al.|
|Start in Life (1979) 36: We made a play for each other even while still in the kitchen.|
|Wiseguy (2001) 93: She immediately began to make a play for the guy.|
|Pugilist at Rest 175: He made a play for her and brought her flowers every day.|
|Emerald Germs of Ireland 343: Let’s have one of the chicks make a play for him and see what happens!|
2. as sense 1, but in a non-sexual manner.
|I’m from Missouri 45: I began to notice that the Gray faction was making a big play for the women.|
|Broadway Racketeers 64: He must be a greaseball or he wouldn’t make his play for immigrants.|
to perform an action, usu. constr. with descriptive adj.
|Teen-Age Mafia 69: Whitey was pulling screwball plays all over the lots.|
(US) to perform an action.
|Red Harvest (1965) 104: ‘I could have [...] showed him that I had them ruined. He’d have listened to reason. He’d have come over to my side, have given me the support I needed to swing the play legally’.|
(US) a general excl. of agreement or approval.
|Law O’ The Lariat 168: A chorus of ‘Yo’re shoutin’ and ‘That’s the play,’ showed that this plan of action was fully in accord with the feelings of the men.|