play the field, to

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play the field

1. To bet on all horses in a race other than the one favored to win. My father had this curious strategy of always playing the field when he bet on horse races. Never worked for him, though.
2. By extension, to date a variety of people rather than making a commitment to one person. I played the field a bit during college, but I prefer having a steady relationship.
See also: field, play
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

play the field

to date many different people rather than just one. When Tom told Ann good-bye, he said he wanted to play the field. He said he wanted to play the field while he was still young.
See also: field, play
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

play the field

Date more than one person; avoid an exclusive commitment. For example, All of Joe's friends are married now, but he continues to play the field. This term originated in British horseracing, where it meant "to bet on every horse in a race except the favorite." It was transferred to other activities about 1930.
See also: field, play
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.

play the field

If someone plays the field, they have many different romantic or sexual relationships. He gave up playing the field and married a year ago. Note: If gamblers play the field, they bet on all the horses in a race except the one that is considered most likely to win.
See also: field, play
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

play the field

indulge in a series of sexual relationships without committing yourself to anyone. informal
1936 L. Lefko Public Relations He hasn't any steady. He plays the field—blonde, brunette, or what have you.
See also: field, play
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

play the ˈfield

(informal) have romantic or sexual relationships with a lot of different people: He told me he didn’t want to get married yet because he was having too much fun playing the field.
See also: field, play
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

play the field

To date more than one person at the same time.
See also: field, play
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

play the field, to

To avoid committing oneself exclusively to one cause, person, and so on; specifically, to court or date more than one person at a time. This term originated in British horse-racing during the nineteenth century, where it meant to bet on every horse in a race except the favorite. It was transferred to other kinds of “risk-spreading” in the first half of the twentieth century. In 1966 a headline in the New Republic read, “Japan Plays the Field— Peace and Trade with Everyone.”
See also: play
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
"I don't want to play the field. I have been out with teachers, builders, even silly City boys showing off, sloshing money around, but money doesn't interest me" - Chloe Madeley, daughter of Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan, who says she is looking for "somebody decent" to marry.
It was greeted by what has been described as "a baffled silence" "The only thing worse than a bad review from the Ayatollah Khomeini, which is how fellow writers have described the issuing of the death sentence, is a good one from the Ayatollah Khomeini" Writer Salman Rushdie who received a fatwa over his book The Satanic Verses "I don't want to play the field. I have been out with teachers, builders, even silly City boys showing off, sloshing money around, but money doesn't interest me" Chloe Madeley, daughter of Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan, who says she is looking for "somebody decent" to marry "He's so handsome.
I still want to play the field or, at least, have an affair.
"The boys don't have the chance to play the field so when women throw themselves at them they can't resist.
It's not that you aren't capable of commitment, it's just that you're confident enough to play the field for the moment."
"He sounds relieved that the relationship is over and I think he just needs to play the field a bit now.
Kate is equally entitled to play the field. God forbid we start a bandwagon that ends in another ill-considered union.
The former boyband idol says he wants to play the field when it comes to women and has no intention of settling down for another 20 years.
In fact, it turned out that if Lowry threw Garrels a curve, Garrels had already decided to play the field. The director's aggressive pursuit was inspired by more than Garrels's steadily rocketing reputation as he moved from director of programs at the Dia Center for the Arts in New York to senior curator at Minneapolis's Walker Art Center and then to San Francisco.
But like any soccer pro, Frank Lampard's ex Elen shows that after a setback at home she's ready to play the field again.
She was his first girlfriend and he needs to play the field a bit.
AFTER being hit for a six over her recent break-up, Agyness Deyn, 26, just wants to play the field.
His friend Darragh is encouraging him to play the field before he gets tied down.