Definition of play-act in English:



[no object]
  • 1Act in a play.

    ‘we've made a craft of play-acting’
    • ‘Mrs Ritchie, not so much expressing herself, but play-acting.’
    • ‘And when they make love near the beginning of the movie, they are play-acting.’
    • ‘But whatever you do, don't play-act like you're an air-headed, not-so-cerebral, mush-for-brains girl.’
    • ‘My kid's only 5, so it's a bit different for him, but he goes to regular sessions where he basically learns to play-act through a lot of imaginative and social situations.’
    • ‘Bennie and Walter play-act in a repetitive chant, as Ruth embarrassingly answers the door to let in George Murchison.’
    • ‘But I was only play-acting to avoid embarrassment.’
    • ‘Did you think ‘my God, I and everyone else in this room are play-acting and in doing so are betraying our profession and holding the public in total contempt’?’
    • ‘On top of this the Italians are genuinely entertaining: they cook pasta, sing, dance, argue passionately, flirt relentlessly and fall on the floor play-acting.’
    • ‘Benson had said he believed the children had been play-acting for the camera.’
    • ‘Dodgson made a game of the sessions, so the girls may be play-acting; but the lens confers an inescapable awareness of separateness, bound up with seeing and being seen.’
    • ‘What will follow is rather odd: I'll find myself spontaneously kind of play-acting, having a sort of two-way exchange where I'll say something and then respond to myself as that being.’
    • ‘That's what I wear when I'm play-acting as a magician, or I get into a suit when I have to make a deal I don't want to - like going to court.’
    • ‘More concretely, it became a film about the ability of women ‘to play-act, to fake.’’
    • ‘Don't play-act being more tired than you are, or be mentally weak enough to give in before you have to, and then training and playing rugby is so simple.’
    • ‘She spends money loose and fast, but she also knows how to play-act.’
    • ‘The idea is that a player would not play-act because he would reduce his team to ten men while he is off the field waiting to be waved back on.’
    • ‘Was he simply play-acting, trying to keep expectations low so he would be underestimated?’
    • ‘He wore a bullet-proof vest and play-acted into a walkie-talkie saying ‘Roger’ and ‘Over’ to convince locals he was a genuine police officer.’
    • ‘You've lived some stuff I've only play-acted.’
    • ‘There has never been a true bond between the two, beyond that of two children, play-acting.’
    1. 1.1with object Act (a scene, role, etc.)
      ‘they were play-acting a western duel’
      • ‘With the next student, Bobby started play-acting devil's advocate, firing questions and posing hypothetical situations to him.’
      • ‘Girls are much more likely to play house, or to play-act their favorite stories or movies.’
      • ‘He also appears to be a racist, which is the first tip-off that he's play-acting the grudge and must be up to something more meaningful in his plottings around camp.’
      • ‘He's the rich kid play-acting war, the symbol and not the substance of the soldier.’
      • ‘In ID4, Smith's partner (Harry Connick, Jr.) play-acts a marriage proposal to him in a locker room.’
      • ‘It is one thing to play-act the gender role of frightened female in a movie theater where the horror is only simulated, but do I want to perform that same gender construction in real life?’
      • ‘With the whole schoolgirl thing, the ‘doing-something-I-shouldn't be-doing’ aspect is what adds the charge, and at School Disco, people, men at least, can play-act this.’
      • ‘One unfortunately tends to forget that Andie is play-acting dumb.’
      • ‘Early in their lives, they often spend entire afternoons play-acting imaginary scenarios.’
      • ‘Psychodrama is play-acting events during therapy and may include elements of enactment, role play, or make believe.’
      • ‘The two women, Ruth and Anna, have play-acted these characters over the years as a way of relieving tensions.’
      • ‘Subsequently, the duke joins in on the masquerade, play-acting the threat of sexual violence against Zidler - a rehearsal for his actions later in the film.’
      • ‘Once it is done you can force them to play-act The Next Generation with you.’
      • ‘Yve, kindly lady that she is, came to rescue me - but all for naught, as she was swept up into the lively gavotte before she could play-act knight in shining armor.’
      • ‘Someone would always be practising the harpsichord or the violin and there was much reading aloud, dressing-up and play-acting.’
      • ‘Yet, at the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit just last week, it was difficult to imagine that this talented couple was only play-acting the romantic ambience that they were creating up there on the Bangkok stage.’
      • ‘They will see the world differently and may not be so eager to play-act violence.’
      • ‘Like Madhur Jaffrey, some of them play-act Hindu stories or rituals, and young girls in particular may have real roles to perform as handmaidens of the Goddess in ceremonies associated with her worship.’
      • ‘Here are two parties play-acting a phoney war - and wondering why voters yawn.’
      pretend, sham, fake, feign, put it on, bluff, pose, posture, masquerade, dissemble, dissimulate
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    2. 1.2usually as noun play-acting Engage in histrionic pretence.
      ‘the defender indulged in some play-acting after tumbling to the ground’
      • ‘Her bloodlessness functions at times as delicacy here, especially in the awkward courtship scenes, but her acting always seems like play-acting to me.’
      • ‘Celtic cannot hold a candle to their UEFA Cup semi-final opponents when it comes to the ‘by any means necessary’ approach that makes virtues of biting, scratching and play-acting.’
      • ‘Again I suggest using play-acting because it helps them get into the situation and think things through.’
      • ‘Movies are magic because they conjure powerful emotions from light, forms, sound, and play-acting.’
      • ‘Curtains around the lower bunk provide fodder for endless hours of peekaboo, play-acting, and fort-building.’
      • ‘The befuddled silliness might be genuine gold or it might be play-acting.’
      • ‘Otherwise it's pretending, play-acting, not really living.’
      • ‘Not that anything's wrong with recreation that involves a little dress-up or play-acting, being a bit more like you want to be instead of (let's face it) who you know you are.’
      • ‘But something else, something quite profound, also arises out of this musical-chair play-acting: the sense that bodies are receptacles for all manner of life forces to pass through.’
      • ‘Also had a couple of storming, skilful bursts up the park, although his penchant for play-acting rankled throughout and eventually earned him a booking.’
      • ‘They love, I suspect, exactly those things that make him problematic: his passion for play-acting, for drama over truth.’
      • ‘It was play-acting, pure and simple, Borthwick declared.’
      • ‘Mentalizing is pervasive in everyday life, in communication and co-operation, in pedagogy, in play-acting, but also in deceiving, cheating, and outwitting.’
      pretend, put it on, fake, sham, bluff, pose, posture, masquerade, make believe, act, go through the motions, put on a false display
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