For example, Monopoly is a game, and I own a copy of it. When I am playing it, I am playing a what of Monopoly? I'm looking for a word that highlights that the game is in progress and differentiates it from the concept of the game.

  • 12
    When I was a kid it was always just "game" -- "We played 3 games of Monopoly."
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 9, 2015 at 22:28
  • 18
    There is the concrete, count-noun usage (We sold 5 games of Monopoly last week), the abstract non-count usage (The game of Monopoly is decades old) and the abstract count-noun usage (Hot Licks played 3 games of Monopoly). Feb 9, 2015 at 22:39
  • @EdwinAshworth +1 I agree.
    – WS2
    Feb 9, 2015 at 22:52
  • "Monopoly, anyone?" (This is a variation on the theme "Tennis, anyone?", which being translated means "Does anyone want to play tennis?") Feb 10, 2015 at 0:41
  • 4
    Sometimes (for some games) people will say "match". Chess is a game, but an instance of two people playing each other is called a [Chess] match.
    – TylerH
    Feb 10, 2015 at 15:43

11 Answers 11


From the Free Dictionary:

game n.
2. a. A competitive activity or sport in which players contend with each other according to a set of rules: the game of basketball; the game of gin rummy.
b. A single instance of such an activity: We lost the first game.

To indicate in progress just use present continuous tense:

"We can't come outside right now, we're playing a game of Monopoly."

  • 1
    +1 - This is the word that is used in the rules: "A Banker who plays in the game must keep his/her personal funds separate from those of the Bank; a bankrupt player must immediately retire from the game," etc.
    – J.R.
    Feb 10, 2015 at 21:32

A round is one word that is used.

For those unfamiliar with the use of round, see:

Oxford English Dictionary

VII. A period or bout of play at a game or sport, and related senses.
34. a. summary: a game of cards = a round of cards
b. summary: refers to a round (=game) of golf
c. gen. A bout of play at a game, sport, or contest; (in early use) spec. a bout of fisticuffs. Also in extended use.

1962 E. Albee Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1965) ii. 85 We'll play a round of Get the Guests. How about that? How about a little game of Get the Guests?

1994 Rotarian Sept. 4/1 Planning a visit to a sister club in the Philippines, and playing a round of mah jong, were far from regular, bland tourist staples.

2009 M. Herczog Frommer's New Orleans 2009 xi. 277 Enjoy some shepherd's pie, wash it down with a sample of the nice selection of beers on tap, play a round of pool or darts.

THUS: a round of Monopoly

You may not say it like that, but me and my kind do.

  • 7
    A round usually refers to one complete cycle within a game. In Monopoly, that would one turn for each person, not an entire start-to-finish.
    – Ypnypn
    Feb 10, 2015 at 2:52
  • 3
    My and my AmE ilk would never say Whose round is it? to mean Whose turn is it? But we would say How 'bout another round? when asking if we want to play another instance (=round = game) of Monopoly.
    – pazzo
    Feb 10, 2015 at 5:00
  • How was this is up voted?
    – Kris
    Feb 10, 2015 at 6:00
  • 2
    Your answer doesn't really delve into this, but perhaps it should: a few games or sports use "round" quite commonly (such as a round of golf, which is 18 holes), while others use the word "round" to designate a shorter portion of a single match (such as boxing, as in, "He was knocked out in the third round"). Curiously enough, when it comes to a board game, I have no problem with, "How 'bout another round?" – that seems like an informal yet acceptable use of the word round. But to say a particular game of Monopoly is called a round doesn't quite seem accurate.
    – J.R.
    Feb 10, 2015 at 10:56
  • 5
    δοῦλος - As I said, I have no problem with, "Let's play a round of Monopoly." Sounds just fine. But when the question is, "When I am playing it, I am playing a _______ of Monopoly?" then round just doesn't seem to fit as well as game.
    – J.R.
    Feb 10, 2015 at 13:57

We distinguish by using the definite article to refer to the concept and "a game of" to refer to a round or marathon session of Monopoly:

Who likes to play the game Monopoly?

Who would like to play a game of Monopoly?

  • I was defeated at the game, but there's another game tomorrow.
    – Kris
    Feb 10, 2015 at 5:58
  • Romano, this is not an answer, not is it true. It's an erroneous opinion, possibly.
    – Kris
    Feb 10, 2015 at 6:00
  • @Kris, it's "the game Monopoly", not just "the game".
    – TRomano
    Feb 10, 2015 at 9:53
  • @Kris - I can't hear myself saying, "I was defeated at the game" – not if we're talking about Monopoly. "I lost the game" would work better, I think.
    – J.R.
    Feb 10, 2015 at 10:46

you could refer to a game instance as a match and also a friendly


Hmm... "round" has other meanings within the context of a game. I agree that the term "game" can be used to refer to one instance of play, however if you need to differentiate between "game" (the collection of rules and/or objects) and "game" (the instance of play), then I think the most appropriate term is "session".

  • 8
    I don't know any native-speaker who would say, "I can't. We're playing a session of Monopoly."
    – Jim
    Feb 9, 2015 at 22:57
  • Perhaps because the term native English speakers would typically use is ambiguous. The question posed was not "What term do people typically use?" but rather was "What's a word to differentiate?" Feb 10, 2015 at 1:11
  • 2
    Regards @Jim's comment, I agree (but think the downvotes a bit harsh). I can see a "session" can referring to either a series of games or maybe a period of playing an open ended game. For example a Poker or Bridge Session; a Dungeons and Dragons session. In either sense, play stops at an agreed time rather than when the instance of the game completes.
    – Keith
    Feb 10, 2015 at 4:54
  • I +1 this, because after "game", "session" was the first thing that came to my mind. As asked, you are not playing a "session" of Monopoly; however I would say that the series of events around a monopoly game, with people sitting at the table, is a session. In RPG circles the term certainly is not uncommon, for what little that is worth. :)
    – Cornelius
    Feb 10, 2015 at 13:55
  • 1
    @Jim "a session of Monopoly" sounds a bit odd, but "a Monopoly session" doesn't sound far-fetched at all. It's certainly not the first term I reach for personally, but I wouldn't be confused or even find it terribly awkward if this came up in normal conversation. At most, it's unusually technical or formal-sounding.
    – talrnu
    Feb 10, 2015 at 17:16

As has already been mentioned, a game of Monopoly is the term we often used. You could also say "We were playing monopoly." A game consists of several turns.

  • game (noun) - A single instance of a competitive activity or sport: "We lost the first game." TFD
  • turn (noun) - An opportunity or obligation to do something that comes successively to each of a number of people: "it was his turn to speak" ODO

A round of cards, a 'game' of pretty much anything else (Monopoly, Cluedo, parchis, snakes and ladders, cricket, football, ...)

  • In AmE at least, a round can refer to a single instance of a non-card game. Perhaps round started with a card game, I dunno. There is also a round of drinks, and a round of golf--which is a sort of game. So we can say in AmE *How 'bout another round of Twister, Monopoly, Clue, Snakes & Ladders, D&D, Catan, et al.
    – pazzo
    Feb 10, 2015 at 2:24
  • Cards, golf (as much as anything because you play a game of golf by walking (a)round a golf course), and drinks - definitely. Otherwise my British ears are used to hearing 'game' or even just simply 'go' (ie another go)
    – Dan
    Feb 10, 2015 at 9:53

The article used and the context is what differentiates. "A game of Monopoly" refers to a round/match of "the game Monopoly." However, if you are referring to a specific instance of the game, you would go back to using "the" as in "Mark won the game of Monopoly that we played yesterday when I landed on his Illinois that had a hotel on it."


I'd be comfortable calling this a run of a game. "Bill won the last run of Monopoly" sounds perfectly natural to me. This usage comes from the form of the word meaning "a journey, especially one taken repeatedly", making it particularly effective for differentiating between multiple distinct game playing sessions. This might also qualify playthrough for the same reasons.

These terms only work for games with a well-defined beginning, middle, and end. However, some video games for example are "sandbox" style, open-ended experiences with no specific end. Referring to a session of play for such games as a "run" or "playthrough" wouldn't make sense, as the point of these games is to have a unique journey each time you play them, not to repeat a journey.


One can sometimes see "a play of the game". This may be rare compared to the other answers we have seen here.


A game of chance offers the following odds and payoffs. Each play of the game costs $200, so the net profit per play is the payoff less $200.

  • 1
    When games are used for a technical mathematical purpose (as in the Axiom of Determinacy) rather than in real life, one very often uses "play" in this sense. Feb 10, 2015 at 22:23

You may be in the (during the begining, middle or mid-way or near the end of the game), (at your turn), (at my play), (at your play or turn)

  • I do not think this address the issue highlighted in the question. Please give a rationale for your answer. Feb 11, 2015 at 9:13

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