Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Financial, Encyclopedia.
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 has 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.
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.
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]
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.