play up to (one)

play up to (one)

To try to win the favor of someone, especially in order to gain an advantage for oneself. John's been playing up to the boss so he'll be considered for the promotion. You'll have to play up to the governor herself if you want to get approval for this project.
See also: play, up

play up to someone

to flatter someone; to try to gain influence with someone. It won't do any good to play up to me. I refuse to agree to your proposal. I played up to him and he still wouldn't give in to me.
See also: play, up

play up to

Curry favor with, flatter, as in There's no use playing up to the boss; it doesn't influence him. This expression originated about 1800 in the theater, where it meant "to support or assist another actor." Within a couple of decades it was being used in other venues.
See also: play, up

play up to

To curry favor with.
See also: play, up