Definition of play by the rules in US English:

play by the rules

phrase

  • Follow what is generally held to be the correct line of behavior.

    • ‘The belief that if one works hard and plays by the rules, one will have a reasonable chance of succeeding as a child and an adult (the American Dream) is a central organizing and motivating force in our society.’
    • ‘The system should be there for people who are playing by the rules - if they can work they should, if they can't we look after them as a community.’
    • ‘Michael Buchan claims that he and his fellow Scottish white fish producers are being penalised for playing by the rules.’
    • ‘Capone is a Jamaican cop who refuses to play by the rules.’
    • ‘He defended the £20,000 poured into the marginal seats of Romsey and Eastleigh by party treasurer Lord Ashcroft for campaigns, saying the party was playing by the rules and not using an unfair advantage.’
    • ‘The role of an umpire and a judge is critical to make sure everybody plays by the rules.’
    • ‘If it became too difficult to obtain parole then they could create a faction of dissident prisoners who will see no incentive in playing by the rules and addressing their offending behaviour.’
    • ‘Compulsory schooling defines good citizens as those who play by the rules, stay in line, and do as they're told.’
    • ‘To win in a competition, it is often necessary to avoid playing by the rules.’
    • ‘They feel betrayed because they work hard and play by the rules and expect a fair chance to compete in the world economy.’
    play fair, be fair, play by the rules, abide by the rules, follow the rules, conform, be a good sport, toe the line, keep in step
    View synonyms