I’m a single female and lately all I do is work, work, work. Truth be told, I’m lonely and bored to tears. Desperate for relief, I decided to take out a classified advertisement but got stuck on the wording. I wanted to communicate that work wasn’t enough, that I needed to recreate, to engage in pleasurable activities. Then I realized that the words “recreate” and “pleasurable activity” might convey unwanted connotations, ahem.
Basically, this girl just wants to have fun, wants to PLAY. But I’m in my fifties, and telling the world that I want to PLAY struck me as somewhat ... undignified.
I began to consider that word, PLAY. Etymonline relates that the modern English verb PLAY stems from the PIE root dlegh - to engage oneself - and developed eventually into the Old English word plegan, plegian, meaning: to move rapidly; to occupy or busy oneself, exercise; frolic; make sport of, mock; perform music. Etymonline further states that the meaning "to take part in a game" is from c. 1200. PLAY employed as an antonym to the verb WORK is attested since late 14c.
As for PLAY the noun, Etymonline relates that, by early Middle English PLAY had come to mean variously, a game, a martial sport, an activity of children, a joke or jest, revelry, and last (bnl), sexual indulgence.
Because the English-speaking world uses PLAY to refer to so many different activities and concepts, I’m turning to you, EL&U. You are my last, best hope. I’m a SWF seeking strong, single-word synonyms for PLAY. Are you game?
For example, in the following sentences, what could replace the verb PLAY most fittingly?
1. The children liked to play cowboys and Indians (i.e., perform, enact, portray seem to lack stress on the whimsical, fantasy element so essential to what we call, “child’s play”)
2. He played alone in his room (what synonym doesn’t require a preposition?)
3. She was playing the violin (again, what synonym doesn’t require a preposition?)
The hypertext link is to The Value of Play I: The Definition of Play Gives Insights, a blog in Psychology Today by Peter Gray