play at

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Related to play at: Play Dough

play at (doing something)

1. To do or partake in something with halfhearted or minimal effort. Quit playing at cleaning the car and just do it! Each day I dutifully sit down at my desk, coffee in hand, but I only play at writing—I haven't been able to write anything substantive in months.
2. To pretend that one is or is doing something. Ever since he was able to talk, John as been playing at being a firefighter—I guess we know what his career will be! With the deregulation of the industry, you ended up with hundreds of glorified accountants playing at being Wall Street hotshots.
See also: play

play at something

to pretend to be doing something. You are not fixing the car, you are just playing at repair work! Stop playing at doing the dishes and get the job done.
See also: play

play at

Do or take part in half-heartedly, as in She was just playing at keeping house, letting the others do all the work. [Mid-1800s]
See also: play

play at

1. To pretend to be or to do something for amusement or out of curiosity: He was just playing at being a cowboy.
2. To do or take part in something halfheartedly: You're playing at your work and not taking it seriously enough.
See also: play
References in periodicals archive ?
Those who play online are more likely to be the most hardcore of gamers - 16% of online gamers play at least 10 hours a week, compared to 6% of those who don't play online.
The fact that Hourigan will actually get the chance to play at Cal Poly is the key.
We know our kids always felt they had a chance to win whenever it came down to a big play at the end of the game.
If I play at my level and play like I can play, I have a good chance to make the team.
Their overtime work earned them the right to play the six top seeds in Wednesday's opening round of match play at Bayonet GC, a group led by Miller and Stewart, who both played well at Bayonet on Tuesday to earn a share of the top spot.
The Bruins call three plays at once, and a system of checks enables McNown to change the play at the line of scrimmage.
users to play at Seattle's new Safeco Field before the Mariners