play fair

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play fair

To act, behave, or play fairly and justly; to observe the rules or the laws; to not cheat or betray the spirit of something. Often used in negative formations. If you don't play fair, no one is going to want to play games with you anymore! The watchdog accused the giant multinational corporation of not playing fair with its tax obligations. Everyone I know cheats the system to their advantage, so why should I have to be the one to play fair?
See also: fair, play

play fair

to do something by the rules; to play something in a fair and just manner. John won't play with Bill anymore because Bill doesn't play fair. You moved the golf ball with your foot! That's not playing fair!
See also: fair, play

play fair

Behave honestly and honorably, obey the rules, as in Not every supplier we deal with plays fair, or We can't just leave them to find their own way back-that's not playing fair. Although this idiom conjures up playing by the rules in some game or sport, it actually has been used in this figurative way since the mid-1400s. Also see play the game.
See also: fair, play

play fair

observe principles of justice; avoid cheating.
See also: fair, play

play ˈfair/ˈstraight (with somebody)

act honestly and fairly: I don’t think it’s playing fair to blame her for other people’s mistakes.
See also: fair, play, straight
References in periodicals archive ?
The courts in New York, however, are not playing fair with brokers right now, said Jay J.
CONGRATULATIONS to Barry Gibson and Bill Armer for pointing out how Kirklees Council are not playing fair with the public by unexpectedly bringing ratification of the Local Development Framework forward by three months (article in Tuesday's Examiner).
"Until he starts playing fair," Roz declares on Thursday, "I say he can stuff his caramel clusters." And she's not the first girl to tell Nikhil that...
Playing fair earns respect, while cheating only brings shame.
THE consumer has to start playing fair in the way we live.
Bob Peters questions whether Hills are playing fair