play on

Idioms & Phrases

play on

Also, play upon. Take advantage of or make use of for a desired effect, as in These health care ads are meant to play on our fears. This idiom uses play in the sense of "performing on an instrument." Shakespeare used it in Hamlet (3:2): "You would play upon me; you would seem to know my stops." [Late 1500s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
Cite This Source
Explore Dictionary.com
Previous Definition: play off
Next Definition: play on words
Words Near: play on
More from Thesaurus.com
Synonyms and Antonyms for play on
More from Reference.com
Search for articles containing play on
More from Dictionary.com Translator
Dictionary.com Word FAQs

Dictionary.com presents 366 FAQs, incorporating some of the frequently asked questions from the past with newer queries.

Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature