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1. Of a ball in a game, in an area or position where play is disallowed according to the game's rules. The referee ruled that, because the ball was still in play, the tackle was not illegal. They're trying to keep the ball in play to keep pressure on their opponents' goal.
2. In effect; in action. If these weather conditions are in play, it would change the direction of the storm.
3. Subject to being overtaken by another company. Is it true that that big insurance company is in play?
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
1. Lit. [of a ball, in a game] under the effect of the rules of the game. (*Typically: be ~; get back ~; put something back ~.) The ball is in play again and the activity is furious. The ball is not in play yet.
2. Fig. [of a company or its stock] in the process of being bought out by another company. (*Typically: be ~; put something ~.) The company I bought stock in is now in play. This stock is in play.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
1. In action or operation. For example, A number of conflicting forces were in play, so the outcome was uncertain. It is also put as bring into play, meaning "to put into action," as in The surprise witness brought new evidence into play. [Mid-1600s]
2. In sports, in a position to be legally or feasibly played, as in The ball is now in play. [Late 1700s]
3. In business, in a position for a possible corporate takeover, as in After a news item said the company was in play, the price of its stock began to rise. [Colloquial; second half of 1900s]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
in/out of ˈplay(of the ball) in/out of a position where it can be played according to the rules of the game: The defender kicked the ball out of play. ♢ The ball’s in play, so play on.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
1. mod. being played; inbounds. (Said of a ball in a game.) The ball’s in play, so you made the wrong move.
2. mod. having to do with a company (or its stock) that is a candidate for acquisition by another company. (Securities markets.) These deal stocks—which are in play right now—offer excellent buying opportunities.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
1. Sports In a position to be legally or feasibly played: The ball is now in play.
2. In a position, or rumored to be in a position of possible corporate takeover: The company's stock rose in price when it was said to be in play.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.