Definition of play the game in US English:

play the game


  • Behave in a fair or honorable way; abide by the rules or conventions.

    • ‘The foundation of a democratic system is playing the game by the rules.’
    • ‘St Johnstone are paying the price, it appears, for not playing the game.’
    • ‘In short they made it clear to journalists that they either played the game according to Labour rules or they had no future as a political reporter.’
    • ‘I am guilty of getting my hopes up when somebody plays the game with a little more class and independence than usual.’
    • ‘In their slavish desire to appear ‘fair and balanced’ the media plays the game for wingnuts by giving their talking points equal weight when there is no factual basis for them whatsoever.’
    • ‘He behaved and played the game in the correct spirit and led by example.’
    • ‘But this will only work to discredit someone if the media plays the game.’
    • ‘The rules are being rewritten while people are still playing the game.’
    • ‘I would just like to be remembered as someone who played the game, and played fair.’
    • ‘It has been my belief that you play the game according to the rules even as you work to change them.’
    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
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