What is (someone) playing at?

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What is (someone) playing at?

What is someone's agenda or ulterior motive? Why is someone doing this? I can't figure out why Janet is suddenly volunteering for a job she said she would never do. What's she playing at? What are you playing at trying to go on a date with my sister?
See also: play, what
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

what’s somebody ˈplaying at?

used to ask in an angry way about what somebody is doing: What do you think you’re playing at?
See also: play, somebody
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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References in periodicals archive ?
Mr Dean was found lying unconscious in a communal corridor as Timney shouted: "What's he playing at?" His former partner thought Mr Dean, who had epilepsy, had suffered a seizure and called 999 just after 6.15pm.
"What's he playing at doing squat thrusts, canoeing and 800-metre runs on the other side of the world?
"What's he playing at? What if he has a really good feckin' look at everything.
What's he playing at? It's messing me up mentally as I prepare for another termination and possibly cancer treatment.
I mean, what's he playing at?," jokes Dermot Keely, Doolin's former team-mate and current manager at Shels.