play dead

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play dead

To lie motionless on the ground, as if one is dead. You should play dead if a brown bear attacks, but not a black bear. My kids and I made up a game where I play dead on the living room floor, and I try to catch them as they sneak past.
See also: dead, play
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

play dead

to pretend to be dead. When the bear attacked me, I just dropped down and played dead.
See also: dead, play
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
See also:
References in periodicals archive ?
The girl laughs, giving it back to her father saying "your turn, your turn", before he pretends to fire the gun, which was not loaded, at his child, who then plays dead.
Organiser Sue Corfield's border collie plays dead and other owners have to guess which dog is the culprit, with each mutt playing a character.
Exhausted panda Lou Sheng lies sprawled out as one of her tiny twin cubs crawls across her tum yesterday in a scene that looks like a play fight when the parent plays dead. The babies were born a month ago at a breeding centre in Shaanxi Province, China.
A click beetle plays dead by lying on its back, then snaps a hinge, [licks his body up in the air, and scuttles away to live another day.
On the stage of a gymnasium, the rabbit starts boxing against an imaginary opponent, sparring against the betrayal itself, and, at the end, lies on her back on the ground and plays dead. An intertitle announces, "I feel like dying," while the ticking noise on the sound track comes to a stop.
PLEA FOR PEACE: Genny Bove, centre, plays dead in Whitehall to highlight the consequences of war with Iraq
Manu lies down beside the corpse and plays dead. Meanwhile, for what feels like a very long time, her two companions just hang out- smoking, talking on a mobile phone, waiting.
He loves sausages and plays dead and rolls over to get a snack.