make a play for

make a play for

verb (used with object), made, mak·ing.

  1. to bring into existence by shaping or changing material, combining parts, etc.: to make a dress; to make a channel; to make a work of art.
  2. to produce; cause to exist or happen; bring about: to make trouble; to make war.
  3. to cause to be or become; render: to make someone happy.
  4. to appoint or name: The president made her his special envoy.
  5. to put in the proper condition or state, as for use; fix; prepare: to make a bed; to make dinner.
  6. to bring into a certain form: to make bricks out of clay.
  7. to convert from one state, condition, category, etc., to another: to make a virtue of one’s vices.
  8. to cause, induce, or compel: to make a horse jump a barrier.
  9. to give rise to; occasion: It’s not worth making a fuss over such a trifle.
  10. to produce, earn, or win for oneself: to make a good salary; to make one’s fortune in oil.
  11. to write or compose: to make a short poem for the occasion.
  12. to draw up, as a legal document; draft: to make a will.
  13. to do; effect: to make a bargain.
  14. to establish or enact; put into existence: to make laws.
  15. to become by development; prove to be: You’ll make a good lawyer.
  16. to form in the mind, as a judgment or estimate: to make a decision.
  17. to judge or interpret, as to the truth, nature, meaning, etc. (often followed by of): What do you make of it?
  18. to estimate; reckon: to make the distance at ten miles.
  19. to bring together separate parts so as to produce a whole; compose; form: to make a matched set.
  20. to amount to; bring up the total to: Two plus two makes four. That makes an even dozen.
  21. to serve as: to make good reading.
  22. to be sufficient to constitute: One story does not make a writer.
  23. to be adequate or suitable for: This wool will make a warm sweater.
  24. to assure the success or fortune of: a deal that could make or break him; Seeing her made my day.
  25. to deliver, utter, or put forth: to make a stirring speech.
  26. to go or travel at a particular speed: to make 60 miles an hour.
  27. to arrive at or reach; attain: The ship made port on Friday. Do you think he’ll make 80?
  28. to arrive in time for: to make the first show.
  29. to arrive in time to be a passenger on (a plane, boat, bus, train, etc.): If you hurry, you can make the next flight.
  30. Informal. to gain or acquire a position within: He made the big time.
  31. to receive mention or appear in or on: The robbery made the front page.
  32. to gain recognition or honor by winning a place or being chosen for inclusion in or on: The novel made the bestseller list. He made the all-American team three years in a row.
  33. Slang. to have sexual intercourse with.
  34. Cards.
    1. to name (the trump).
    2. to take a trick with (a card).
    3. fulfill or achieve (a contract or bid).
    4. to shuffle (the cards).
  35. to earn, as a score: The team made 40 points in the first half.
  36. Slang. (especially in police and underworld use)
    1. to recognize or identify: Any cop in town will make you as soon as you walk down the street.
    2. to charge or cause to be charged with a crime: The police expect to make a couple of suspects soon.
  37. to close (an electric circuit).
  38. South Midland and Southern U.S. to plant and cultivate or produce (a crop): He makes some of the best corn in the country.

verb (used without object), made, mak·ing.

  1. to cause oneself, or something understood, to be as specified: to make sure.
  2. to show oneself to be or seem in action or behavior (usually followed by an adjective): to make merry.
  3. to be made, as specified: This fabric makes up into beautiful drapes.
  4. to move or proceed in a particular direction: They made after the thief.
  5. to rise, as the tide or water in a ship.
  6. South Midland and Southern U.S. (of a crop) to grow, develop, or mature: It looks like the corn’s going to make pretty good this year.
  7. make down, Chiefly Pennsylvania German. to rain or snow: It’s making down hard.
  8. make fast, Chiefly Nautical. to fasten or secure.
  9. make shut, Chiefly Pennsylvania German. to close: Make the door shut.


  1. the style or manner in which something is made; form; build.
  2. production with reference to the manufacturer; brand: our own make.
  3. disposition; character; nature.
  4. the act or process of making.
  5. quantity made; output.
  6. Cards. the act of naming the trump, or the suit named as trump.
  7. Electricity. the closing of an electric circuit.
  8. Jewelry. the excellence of a polished diamond with regard to proportion, symmetry, and finish.
  9. Slang. identifying information about a person or thing from police records: He radioed headquarters for a make on the car’s license plate.

Verb Phrases

  1. make out,
    1. to write out or complete, as a bill or check.
    2. to establish; prove.
    3. to decipher; discern.
    4. to imply, suggest, or impute: He made me out to be a liar.
    5. to manage; succeed: How are you making out in your new job?
    6. engage in kissing and caressing; neck.
    7. have sexual intercourse.
    8. Chiefly Pennsylvania turn off or extinguish (especially a light or fire): Make the light out.
  2. make over,
    1. to remodel; alter: to make over a dress; to make over a page layout.
    2. to transfer the title of (property); convey: After she retired she made over her property to her children and moved to Florida.
  3. make for,
    1. to go toward; approach: to make for home.
    2. to lunge at; attack.
    3. to help to promote or maintain: This incident will not make for better understanding between the warring factions.
  4. make off,
    1. to run away; depart hastily: The only witness to the accident made off before the police arrived.
    2. stand off from a coast, especially a lee shore.
  5. make off with, to carry away; steal: While the family was away, thieves made off with most of their valuables.
  6. make on, Chiefly Pennsylvania German. to turn on, light, or ignite (especially a light or fire): Make the light on.
  7. make up,
    1. (of parts) to constitute; compose; form.
    2. to put together; construct; compile.
    3. to concoct; invent.
    4. Also make up compensate for; make good.
    5. to complete.
    6. to put in order; arrange: The maid will make up the room.
    7. to conclude; decide.
    8. to settle amicably, as differences.
    9. to become reconciled, as after a quarrel.
    10. arrange set type, illustrations, etc., into columns or pages.
    11. to dress in appropriate costume and apply cosmetics for a part on the stage.
    12. to apply cosmetics.
    13. to adjust or balance, as accounts; prepare, as statements.
    14. repeat (a course or examination that one has failed).
    15. take an examination that one had been unable to take when first given, usually because of absence.
    16. to specify and indicate the layout or arrangement of (columns, pages, etc., of matter to be printed).
    17. Atlantic States.(of the weather or clouds) to develop or gather: It’s making up for a storm.
    18. Atlantic States.(of the sea) to become turbulent: If the sea makes up, row toward land.
  8. make up to,
    1. try to become friendly with; fawn on.
    2. to make advances to; flirt with: He makes up to every new woman in the office.


  1. make a play for, to try to get: He made a play for his brother’s girlfriend. They made a play for control of the company’s stock.
  2. make as if/as though, Informal. to act as if; pretend: We will make as if to leave, then come back and surprise him.
  3. make away with,
    1. to steal: The clerk made away with the cash and checks.
    2. to destroy; kill: He made away with his enemies.
    3. to get rid of.
    4. to consume, drink, or eat completely: The boys made away with the contents of the refrigerator.
  4. make believe, to pretend; imagine: The little girl dressed in a sheet and made believe she was a ghost.
  5. make (so) bold, to have the temerity; be so rash; dare: May I make so bold as to suggest that you stand when they enter?
  6. make book, Slang.
    1. to take bets and give odds.
    2. to make a business of this.
  7. make colors, Nautical. to hoist an ensign, as on board a warship.
  8. make do, to function, manage, or operate, usually on a deprivation level with minimal requirements: During the war we had no butter or coffee, so we had to make do without them.
  9. make good,
    1. to provide restitution or reparation for: The bank teller made good the shortage and was given a light sentence.
    2. to succeed: Talent and training are necessary to make good in some fields.
    3. to fulfill: He made good on his promise.
    4. compute (a course) allowing for leeway and compass deviation.
  10. make heavy weather,
    1. roll and pitch in heavy seas.
    2. to progress laboriously; struggle, especially to struggle needlessly: I am making heavy weather with my income tax return.
  11. make it,
    1. achieve a specific goal: to make it to the train; to make it through college.
    2. succeed in general: He’ll never make it in business.
    3. have sexual intercourse.
  12. make it so, Nautical. strike the ship’s bell accordingly: said by the officer of the watch when the hour is announced.
  13. make like, Informal. to try or pretend to be like; imitate: I’m going to go out and make like a gardener.
  14. make one’s manners, Southern U.S.
    1. to perform an appropriate or expected social courtesy.
    2. Older bow or curtsy.
  15. make sail, Nautical.
    1. to set sails.
    2. to brace the yards of a ship that has been hove to in order to make headway.
  16. make time. time(def 52).
  17. make water,
    1. to urinate.
    2. Nautical.(of a hull) to leak.
  18. make with, Slang.
    1. to operate; use: Let’s make with the feet.
    2. to bring about; provide or produce: He makes with the big ideas, but can’t follow through.
  19. on the make, Informal.
    1. seeking to improve one’s social or financial position, usually at the expense of others or of principle.
    2. increasing; advancing.
    3. Slang.seeking amorous or sexual relations: The park was swarming with sailors on the make.
  20. put the make on, Slang. to make sexual overtures to.


  1. a dramatic composition or piece; drama.
  2. a dramatic performance, as on the stage.
  3. exercise or activity for amusement or recreation.
  4. fun or jest, as opposed to seriousness: I said it merely in play.
  5. a pun.
  6. the playing, action, or conduct of a game: The pitcher was replaced in the fourth inning of play.
  7. the manner or style of playing or of doing something: We admired his fine play throughout the game.
  8. an act or instance of playing or of doing something: a stupid play that cost us the match.
  9. one’s turn to play: Whose play is it?
  10. a playing for stakes; gambling.
  11. an attempt to accomplish something, often in a manner showing craft or calculation; maneuver: They tried to buy up the stock in a takeover play.
  12. an enterprise or venture; deal: an oil and drilling play.
  13. action, conduct, or dealing of a specified kind: fair play; foul play.
  14. action, activity, or operation: the play of fancy.
  15. brisk, light, or changing movement or action: a fountain with a leaping play of water.
  16. elusive change or movement, as of light or colors: the play of a searchlight against the night sky.
  17. a space in which something, as a part of a mechanism, can move.
  18. freedom of movement within a space, as of a part of a mechanism.
  19. freedom for action, or scope for activity: full play of the mind.
  20. attention in the press or other media; coverage; dissemination as news: The birth of the panda got a big play in the papers.
  21. an act or instance of being broadcast: The governor’s speech got two plays on our local station.

verb (used with object)

  1. to act the part of (a person or character) in a dramatic performance; portray: to play Lady Macbeth.
  2. to perform (a drama, pantomime, etc.) on or as if on the stage.
  3. to act or sustain (a part) in a dramatic performance or in real life: to play the role of benefactor.
  4. to act the part or character of in real life: to play the fool; to play God.
  5. to give performances in, as a theatrical company does: to play the larger cities.
  6. to engage in (a game, pastime, etc.).
  7. to contend against in a game.
  8. to function or perform as (a specified player) in a game or competition: He usually plays left end.
  9. to employ (a piece of equipment, a player, etc.) in a game: I played my highest card.
  10. to use as if in playing a game, as for one’s own advantage: He played his brothers against each other.
  11. to stake or wager, as in a game.
  12. to lay a wager or wagers on (something).
  13. to represent or imitate, as for recreation or in jest: to play cowboys and Indians.
  14. to perform on (a musical instrument).
  15. to perform (music) on an instrument.
  16. to cause (a phonograph, radio, recording, etc.) to produce sound or pictures: to play a tape; to play the radio.
  17. to do or perform: You shouldn’t play tricks. Compromise plays an important part in marriage.
  18. to carry or put into operation; act upon: to play a hunch.
  19. to cause to move or change lightly or quickly: to play colored lights on a fountain.
  20. to operate or cause to operate, especially continuously or with repeated action: to play a hose on a fire.
  21. to allow (a hooked fish) to exhaust itself by pulling on the line.
  22. to display or feature (a news story, photograph, etc.), especially prominently: Play the flood photos on page one.
  23. to exploit or trade in (an investment, business opportunity, stock, etc.).

verb (used without object)

  1. to exercise or employ oneself in diversion, amusement, or recreation.
  2. to do something in sport that is not to be taken seriously.
  3. to amuse oneself; toy; trifle (often followed by with).
  4. to take part or engage in a game.
  5. to take part in a game for stakes; gamble.
  6. to conduct oneself or act in a specified way: to play fair.
  7. to act on or as if on the stage; perform.
  8. to perform on a musical instrument.
  9. (of an instrument or music) to sound in performance: The strings are playing well this evening.
  10. (of a phonograph, radio, recording, etc.) to give forth sound: The radio played all night.
  11. to be performed or shown: What’s playing at the movie theater around the corner?
  12. to be capable of or suitable for performance, as a television or dramatic script: We hope this scene will play well.
  13. Informal. to be accepted or effective; fare: How will the senator’s proposal play with the public?
  14. to move freely within a space, as a part of a mechanism.
  15. to move about lightly or quickly: The water of the fountain played in the air.
  16. to present the effect of such motion, as light or the changing colors of an iridescent substance: The lights played strangely over the faces of the actors.
  17. to operate continuously or with repeated action.
  18. Informal. to comply or cooperate: They wanted her to tell them what she knew about the plans, but she refused to play.

Verb Phrases

  1. play along,
    1. to cooperate or concur; go along.
    2. to pretend to cooperate or concur.
  2. play around, Informal.
    1. to behave in a playful or frivolous manner; fool around.
    2. to be sexually promiscuous.
    3. to be sexually unfaithful.
  3. play at,
    1. to pretend interest in: It’s obvious that you’re just playing at fishing for my sake.
    2. to do something without seriousness: He is merely playing at being a student.
  4. play back, to play (a recording, especially one newly made): Play it back and let’s hear how I sound.
  5. play down, to treat as of little importance; belittle: He has consistently played down his own part in the successful enterprise.
  6. play off,
    1. play an extra game or round in order to settle a tie.
    2. engage in an elimination game or games after the regular season is over in order to determine the champion.
    3. to set (one person or thing) against another, usually for one’s own gain or advantage: The children could usually get what they wanted by playing one parent off against the other.
  7. play on/upon, to exploit, as the feelings or weaknesses of another; take selfish advantage of: She would never think of playing on the good nature of others.
  8. play out,
    1. to bring to an end; finish.
    2. to use up; exhaust: to play out one’s supplies.
    3. to reel or pay out, as a rope, line, etc.
  9. play up, to emphasize the importance of; highlight or publicize: The schools are playing up their science programs.


  1. bring into play, to put into motion; cause to be introduced: New evidence has been brought into play in this trial.
  2. come to play, Informal. to be disposed to play or participate in a manner reflecting a determination to win or succeed: We’re a small new business, but we came to play.
  3. in/out of play, in or not in the state of being played during a game: The umpire says the ball was not in play.
  4. make a play for, Informal.
    1. to try to attract, especially sexually: He made a play for his friend’s girlfriend.
    2. to attempt to gain by impressing favorably: This ad will make a play for new consumer markets.
  5. play ball. ball1(def 25).
  6. play both ends against the middle, to maneuver opposing groups in order to benefit oneself.
  7. play by ear, to play (music or a musical instrument) without printed music, as by memory of what one has heard or by unschooled musical instinct.
  8. played out,
    1. exhausted; weary.
    2. out of fashion; hackneyed: New styles in clothing are soon played out in New York.
    3. used up; finished: The original tires were played out and had to be replaced.
  9. play fast and loose, to act in an irresponsible or inconsiderate manner, especially to employ deception to gain one’s ends: to play fast and loose with someone’s affections.
  10. play for time, to prolong something in order to gain an advantage; forestall an event or decision: Their maneuvering at the conference was obviously calculated to play for time.
  11. play hardball. hardball(def 4).
  12. play into the hands of, to act in such a way as to give an advantage to (someone, especially an opponent): If you lose your temper when he insults you, you will be playing right into his hands.Also play into (someone’s) hands.
  13. play it by ear, to improvise, especially in a challenging situation when confronted by unknown factors: If you can’t come up with a plan, we’ll just have to play it by ear.
  14. play it safe, to act cautiously; avoid risk or danger: She usually plays it safe on the red carpet, wearing simple, classic designs.Also play safe.
  15. play one’s cards. card1(def 22).
  16. play politics. politics(def 8).
  17. play possum. possum(def 3).
  18. play second fiddle. second fiddle(def 1).
  19. play the field. field(def 39).
  20. play the game. game1(def 27).
  21. play up to, Informal. to attempt to impress in order to gain someone’s favor: Students who too obviously play up to their teachers are usually disliked by their classmates.
  22. play with a full deck. deck(def 23).
  23. play with fire. fire(def 54).
  24. play with oneself, Informal. to masturbate.


  1. to occupy oneself in (a sport or diversion); amuse oneself in (a game)
  2. (tr) to contend against (an opponent) in a sport or gameEd played Tony at chess and lost
  3. to fulfil or cause to fulfil (a particular role) in a team gamehe plays defence; he plays in the defence
  4. (tr) to address oneself to (a ball) in a gameplay the ball not the man
  5. (intr; often foll by about or around) to behave carelessly, esp in a way that is unconsciously cruel or hurtful; trifle or dally (with)to play about with a young girl’s affections
  6. (when intr, often foll by at) to perform or act the part (of) in or as in a dramatic production; assume or simulate the role (of)to play the villain; just what are you playing at?
  7. to act out or perform (a dramatic production)
  8. to give a performance in (a place) or (of a performance) to be given in a place
  9. (intr) to be receivedHow will these policies play in Middle England?
  10. to have the ability to perform on (a musical instrument)David plays the harp
  11. to perform (on a musical instrument) as specifiedhe plays out of tune
  12. (tr)
    1. to reproduce (a tune, melody, piece of music, note, etc) on an instrument
    2. to perform works by (a specific composer)to play Brahms
  13. to discharge or cause to dischargehe played the water from the hose onto the garden
  14. to operate, esp to cause (a record player, radio, etc) to emit sound or (of a record player, radio, etc) to emit (sound)he played a record; the radio was playing loudly
  15. to move or cause to move freely, quickly, or irregularlylights played on the scenery
  16. (tr) stock exchange to speculate or operate aggressively for gain in (a market)
  17. (tr) angling to attempt to tire (a hooked fish) by alternately letting out and reeling in line and by using the rod’s flexibility
  18. to put (a card, counter, piece, etc) into play
  19. to gamble (money) on a game
  20. play ball informal to cooperate
  21. play fair or play fair with someone to prove oneself fair in one’s dealings
  22. play false or play fair with someone to prove oneself unfair in one’s dealings
  23. play by ear See ear 1 (def. 19)
  24. play for time to delay the outcome of some activity so as to gain time to one’s own advantage
  25. play into the hands of to act directly to the advantage of (an opponent)
  26. play the fool See fool 1 (def. 7)
  27. play the game See game 1 (def. 22)


  1. a dramatic composition written for performance by actors on a stage, on television, etc; drama
    1. the performance of a dramatic composition
    2. (in combination)playreader
    1. games, exercise, or other activity undertaken for pleasure, diversion, etc, esp by children
    2. (in combination)playroom
    3. (as modifier)play dough
  2. manner of action, conduct, or playingfair play
  3. the playing or conduct of a game or the period during which a game is in progressrain stopped play
  4. US and Canadian a move or manoeuvre in a gamea brilliant play
  5. the situation of a ball that is within the defined area and being played according to the rules (in the phrases in play, out of play)
  6. a turn to playit’s my play
  7. the act of playing for stakes; gambling
  8. action, activity, or operationthe play of the imagination
  9. freedom of or scope or space for movementtoo much play in the rope
  10. light, free, or rapidly shifting motionthe play of light on the water
  11. fun, jest, or jokingI only did it in play
  12. call into play to bring into operation
  13. make a play for informal
    1. to make an obvious attempt to gain
    2. to attempt to attract or seduce

verb makes, making or made (mainly tr)

  1. to bring into being by shaping, changing, or combining materials, ideas, etc; form or fashion; createto make a chair from bits of wood; make a poem
  2. to draw up, establish, or formto make a decision; make one’s will
  3. to cause to exist, bring about, or producedon’t make a noise
  4. to cause, compel, or induceplease make him go away
  5. to appoint or assign, as to a rank or positionthey made him chairman
  6. to constituteone swallow doesn’t make a summer
  7. (also intr) to come or cause to come into a specified state or conditionto make merry; make someone happy
  8. (copula) to be or become through developmenthe will make a good teacher
  9. to cause or ensure the success ofyour news has made my day
  10. to amount totwelve inches make a foot
  11. to be part of or a member ofdid she make one of the party?
  12. to serve as or be suitable forthat piece of cloth will make a coat
  13. to prepare or put into a fit condition for useto make a bed
  14. to be the essential element in or part ofcharm makes a good salesman
  15. to carry out, effect, or doto make a gesture
  16. (intr; foll by to, as if to, or as though to) to act with the intention or with a show of doing somethingthey made to go out; he made as if to hit her
  17. to use for a specified purposeI will make this town my base
  18. to deliver or pronounceto make a speech
  19. to judge, reckon, or give one’s own opinion or information as towhat time do you make it?
  20. to cause to seem or represent as beingthat furniture makes the room look dark
  21. to earn, acquire, or win for oneselfto make friends; make a fortune
  22. to engage inmake love not war
  23. to traverse or cover (distance) by travellingwe can make a hundred miles by nightfall
  24. to arrive in time forhe didn’t make the first act of the play
  25. cards
    1. to win a trick with (a specified card)
    2. to shuffle (the cards)
    3. bridgeto fulfil (a contract) by winning the necessary number of tricks
  26. cricket to score (runs)
  27. electronics to close (a circuit) permitting a flow of currentCompare break (def. 44)
  28. (intr) to increase in depththe water in the hold was making a foot a minute
  29. (intr) (of hay) to dry and mature
  30. informal to gain a place or position on or into make the headlines; make the first team
  31. informal to achieve the rank of
  32. slang to seduce
  33. make a book to take bets on a race or other contest
  34. make a day of it to cause an activity to last a day
  35. make a night of it to cause an activity to last a night
  36. make do See do 1 (def. 37)
  37. make eyes at to flirt with or ogle
  38. make good See good (def. 44)
  39. make heavy weather nautical to roll and pitch in heavy seas
  40. make heavy weather of something informal to carry something out with great difficulty or unnecessarily great effort
  41. make it
    1. informalto be successful in doing something
    2. (foll by with) slangto have sexual intercourse
    3. slangto inject a narcotic drug
  42. make like slang, mainly US and Canadian to imitate
  43. make love
    1. to have sexual intercourse
    2. archaicto engage in courtship
  44. make love to someone
    1. to have sexual intercourse with someone
    2. archaicto engage in courtship with someone
  45. make or break to bring success or ruin
  46. make time See time (def. 45)
  47. make water
    1. another term for urinate
    2. (of a boat, hull, etc) to let in water


  1. brand, type, or stylewhat make of car is that?
  2. the manner or way in which something is made
  3. disposition or character; make-up
  4. the act or process of making
  5. the amount or number made
  6. bridge the contract to be played
  7. cards a player’s turn to shuffle
  8. on the make
    1. informalout for profit or conquest
    2. slangin search of a sexual partner

noun archaic

  1. a peer or consort
  2. a mate or spouse

v.Old English plegan, plegian “move rapidly, occupy or busy oneself, exercise; frolic; make sport of, mock; perform music,” from West Germanic *plegan “occupy oneself about” (cf. Old Saxon plegan “vouch for, take charge of,” Old Frisian plega “tend to,” Middle Dutch pleyen “to rejoice, be glad,” German pflegen “take care of, cultivate”), from PIE root *dlegh- “to engage oneself,” forming words in Celtic, Germanic, Slavic, and possibly Latin. Meaning “to take part in a game” is from c.1200. Opposed to work (v.) since late 14c. Related: Played; playing. To play up “emphasize” is from 1909; to play down “minimize” is from 1930; to play along “cooperate” is from 1929. To play with oneself “masturbate” is from 1896; play for keeps is from 1861, originally of marbles or other children’s games with tokens. To play second fiddle in the figurative sense is from 1809 (“Gil Blas”). To play into the hands (of someone) is from 1705. To play the _______ card is attested from 1886; to play fair is from mid-15c. To play (something) safe is from 1911; to play favorites is attested from 1902. For play the field see field (n.). n.Old English plega (West Saxon), plæga (Anglian) “quick motion; recreation, exercise, any brisk activity” (the latter sense preserved in swordplay, etc.), from or related to Old English plegan (see play (v.)). Meaning “dramatic performance” is attested by early 14c., perhaps late Old English. Meaning “free or unimpeded movement” of mechanisms, etc., is from c.1200. By early Middle English it could mean variously, “a game, a martial sport, activity of children, joke or jesting, revelry, sexual indulgence.” Sporting sense “the playing of a game” first attested mid-15c.; sense of “specific maneuver or attempt” is from 1868. To be in play (of a hit ball, etc.) is from 1788. Play-by-play is attested from 1927. Play on words is from 1798. Play-money is attested from 1705 as “money won in gambling,” by 1920 as “pretend money.” v.Old English macian “to make, form, construct, do; prepare, arrange, cause; behave, fare, transform,” from West Germanic *makon “to fashion, fit” (cf. Old Saxon makon, Old Frisian makia “to build, make,” Middle Dutch and Dutch maken, Old High German mahhon “to construct, make,” German machen “to make”), from PIE *mag- “to knead, mix; to fashion, fit” (see macerate). If so, sense evolution perhaps is via prehistoric houses built of mud. Gradually replaced the main Old English word, gewyrcan (see work (v.)). Meaning “to arrive at” (a place), first attested 1620s, originally was nautical. Formerly used in many places where specific verbs now are used, e.g. to make Latin (c.1500) “to write Latin compositions.” This broader usage survives in some phrases, e.g. to make water “to urinate,” to make a book “arrange a series of bets” (1828), make hay “to turn over mown grass to expose it to sun.” Make the grade is 1912, perhaps from the notion of railway engines going up an incline. Read the valuable suggestions in Dr. C.V. Mosby’s book — be prepared to surmount obstacles before you encounter them — equipped with the power to “make the grade” in life’s climb. [advertisement for “Making the Grade,” December 1916] But the phrase also was in use in a schoolwork context at the time. Make do “manage with what is available” is attested from 1867. Make time “go fast” is 1849; make tracks in this sense is from 1834. To make a federal case out of (something) popularized in 1959 movie “Anatomy of a Murder;” to make an offer (one) can’t refuse is from Mario Puzo’s 1969 novel “The Godfather.” To make (one’s) day is from 1909; menacing make my day is from 1971, popularized by Clint Eastwood in film “Sudden Impact” (1983). Related: Made; making. n.“match, mate, companion” (now archaic or dialectal), from Old English gemaca “mate, equal; one of a pair, comrade; consort, husband, wife,” from Proto-Germanic *gamakon-, related to Old English gemæcc “well-matched, suitable,” macian “to make” (see make (v.)). Meaning “manner in which something is made, design, construction” is from c.1300. Phrase on the make “intent on profit or advancement” is from 1869. Try to attract someone’s interest, especially romantic interest. For example, Bill has been making a play for Anne, but so far it hasn’t gotten him anywhere. [Slang; c. 1900] In addition to the idioms beginning with make

  • make a beeline for
  • make a break for
  • make a bundle
  • make a clean breast of
  • make a clean sweep
  • make a comeback
  • make a crack
  • make a date
  • make a day of it
  • make a dent in
  • make a difference
  • make advances
  • make a face
  • make a federal case of
  • make a fool of
  • make a fortune
  • make a fuss
  • make a go of
  • make a hash of
  • make a hit
  • make a hole in
  • make a killing
  • make a laughingstock of
  • make a living
  • make allowance for
  • make a long story short
  • make amends
  • make a monkey out of
  • make a mountain out of a molehill
  • make a name for oneself
  • make an appearance
  • make an appointment
  • make an ass of
  • make an end of
  • make an example of
  • make an exception
  • make an exhibition of oneself
  • make a night of it
  • make an impression
  • make a note of
  • make a nuisance of oneself
  • make a pass at
  • make a pig of oneself
  • make a pile
  • make a pitch for
  • make a play for
  • make a point of
  • make a practice of
  • make arrangements for
  • make a run for
  • make a scene
  • make as if
  • make a silk purse
  • make a stab at
  • make a stand
  • make a statement
  • make a stink
  • make a virtue of necessity
  • make away with
  • make bail
  • make believe
  • make bold
  • make book
  • make bricks without straw
  • make capital out of
  • make conversation
  • make demands on
  • make do
  • make ends meet
  • make eyes at
  • make fast work of
  • make for
  • make free with
  • make friends
  • make fun of
  • make good
  • make good time
  • make great strides
  • make haste
  • make hay while the sun shines
  • make head or tail of
  • make headway
  • make heavy weather
  • make history
  • make inroads into
  • make it
  • make it hot for
  • make it one’s business
  • make it snappy
  • make it up
  • make it with
  • make light of
  • make like
  • make little of
  • make love
  • make mincemeat of
  • make mischief
  • make much of
  • make my day
  • make no bones about
  • make no difference
  • make no mistake
  • make nothing of
  • make off
  • make one’s bed and lie in it
  • make one’s blood boil
  • make one’s blood run cold
  • make one’s day
  • make one’s ears burn
  • make oneself at home
  • make oneself scarce
  • make one’s flesh creep
  • make one’s hair stand on end
  • make one’s head spin
  • make one sick
  • make one’s mark
  • make one’s mouth water
  • make one’s peace with
  • make one’s point
  • make one’s way
  • make or break
  • make out
  • make out like a bandit
  • make over
  • make peace
  • make ready
  • make rounds
  • make sail
  • make sense
  • make short work of
  • make someone look good
  • make something of
  • make sport of
  • make stick
  • make sure
  • make the bed
  • make the best of it
  • make the dust fly
  • make the grade
  • make the most of
  • make the rounds
  • make the scene
  • make the sparks fly
  • make time
  • make tracks
  • make up
  • make up for lost time
  • make up one’s mind
  • make up to
  • make use of
  • make waves
  • make way
  • make whoopee
  • make with
  • also see:

  • absence makes the heart grow fonder
  • all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
  • can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
  • can’t make head or tail of
  • kiss and make up
  • many hands make light work
  • might makes right
  • on the make
  • practice makes perfect
  • put in (make) an appearance
  • put the make on
  • run for it, make a
  • that makes two of us
  • two wrongs do not make a right
  • what makes one tick
  • Also see undermade. In addition to the idioms beginning with play

  • play along
  • play a losing game
  • play around
  • play at
  • play a waiting game
  • play back
  • play ball
  • play both ends against the middle
  • play by ear
  • play cat and mouse
  • play down
  • played out
  • play fair
  • play false
  • play fast and loose
  • play footsie
  • play for
  • play for keeps
  • play for laughs
  • play for time
  • play games
  • play hardball
  • play hard to get
  • play havoc
  • play hide and seek
  • play hooky
  • play in Peoria
  • play into the hands of
  • play it close to one’s chest
  • play it cool
  • play it safe
  • play musical chairs
  • play off
  • play on
  • play one’s cards close to one’s chest
  • play one’s cards right
  • play one’s trump card
  • play on words
  • play out
  • play politics
  • play possum
  • play safe
  • play second fiddle
  • play the devil with
  • play the field
  • play the fool
  • play the game
  • play the heavy
  • play the market
  • play to the gallery
  • play up
  • play upon
  • play up to
  • play with fire
  • also see:

  • all work and no play
  • child’s play
  • devil’s advocate, play
  • fair play
  • foul play
  • game that two can play
  • grandstand play
  • in play
  • make a play for
  • musical chairs, play
  • squeeze play
  • trump card, play one’s
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