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1. To play something one has recorded, especially to watch or listen carefully or find out how something looks or sounds (rather than to watch or listen recreationally). A noun or pronoun can be used between "play" and "back." They played the interview back during the trial so the jury could hear the defendant's reaction to the question. He played back the video footage of the game to see why his opponent kept getting the advantage on him.
2. To think intensely of some past event. A noun or pronoun can be used between "play" and "back"; usually followed by "in one's mind/head." I kept playing our final bittersweet farewell back in my mind as my plane took off for Europe. If you lie awake at night playing back every negative interaction you had during the day, you're going to end up driving yourself crazy!
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
play something back (to someone)
to play a recording to someone. Can you play the speech back to me? Please play back the speech to me, so I can hear how I sound.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Replay, especially a recorded performance; also, repeat. For example, When we played back the tape of the concert we noticed a lot of missed notes, or He uses the same material again and again, playing back his old speech. [Early 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.
1. To replay something that has been recorded: After recording the interview, the reporter played back the tape to find a quotation for the article. The instructors videotaped the performance and played it back for the class in slow motion.
2. To withdraw or lower the emphasis of something: You should play back the budget questions in your presentation and concentrate on hiring decisions. The coach played the defense back for a while and concentrated on scoring goals.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.