1. an object, often a small representation of something familiar, as an animal or person, for children or others to play with; plaything.
  2. a thing or matter of little or no value or importance; a trifle.
  3. something that serves for or as if for diversion, rather than for serious practical use.
  4. a small article of little value but prized as a souvenir or for some other special reason; trinket; knickknack; bauble.
  5. something diminutive, especially in comparison with like objects.
  6. an animal of a breed or variety noted for smallness of size: The winning terrier at the dog show was a toy.
  7. a close-fitting cap of linen or wool, with flaps coming down to the shoulders, formerly worn by women in Scotland.
  8. a simple, light piece of music, especially of 16th or 17th century England, written for the virginal.
  9. Obsolete.
    1. amorous dallying.
    2. a playful or amusing act; diversion; pastime.


  1. made or designed for use as a toy: a toy gun.
  2. of or resembling a toy, especially diminutive in size.

verb (used without object)

  1. to amuse oneself; play.
  2. to act idly; or with indifference; trifle: to toy with one’s food.
  3. to dally amorously; flirt.


  1. an object designed to be played with
    1. something that is a nonfunctioning replica of something else, esp a miniature one
    2. (as modifier)a toy guitar
  2. any small thing of little value; trifle
    1. something small or miniature, esp a miniature variety of a breed of dog
    2. (as modifier)a toy poodle


  1. (intr usually foll by with) to play, fiddle, or flirt

c.1300, “amorous playing, sport,” later “piece of fun or entertainment” (c.1500), “thing of little value, trifle” (1520s), and “thing for a child to play with” (1580s). Of uncertain origin, and there may be more than one word here. Cf. Middle Dutch toy, Dutch tuig “tools, apparatus, stuff, trash,” in speeltuig “play-toy, plaything;” German Zeug “stuff, matter, tools,” Spielzeug “plaything, toy;” Danish tøi, Swedish tyg “stuff, gear.”


1520s, from toy (n.).

If he be merie and toy with any,
His wife will frowne, and words geve manye.
[“Song of the Bachelor’s Life,” 16c.]

Related: Toyed; toying.

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