I am working to translate a language into English/using English glosses. There is one word that has a meaning roughly similar to "to play too much" or "to play excessively", but I feel these translations do not quite catch the meaning.

I am looking for a verb, rather than an adjective.

Having looked through the thesaurus, I also find a bit of an issue here because "to play", "too much", and "excessively" are either too broad or have too many synonyms, yet I have not been able to find something better to search with. Therefore, I will try to explain here and I am hoping someone will have a good suggestion for a word/short phrase that touches this feeling a bit better.

Description: The situation best describes children who can walk and are probably between 1.5 to 6 years old on average (older is possible, but most people calm down a bit by then). During a given place and period of time, the child is overly active. S/he goes to one place in the room for a short time and plays with something, after a short time s/he goes elsewhere in the room to play, and this pattern basically repeats. This activity is likely generally noisy, but not necessarily so. The activity also distracts parents/guardians who will generally scold the child to sit still, chill out, calm down, etc.

If I can provide any additional details that may help in coming up with a good word or more succinct gloss, please let me know.

EDIT: Based on comments and answers, I was able to get better ideas for this. Looking through the thesaurus again with these terms, I compiled a list of things that I think are reasonable contenders.

Current considerations:

  • to caper (v) Skip or dance about in a lively or playful way
  • to cavort (v) Jump or dance around excitedly
  • to gambol (v) Run or jump about playfully
  • to fool around (v) 1. to spend time idly, aimlessly, or frivolously
  • to romp (v) (especially of a child or animal) play roughly and energetically
  • to rollick (v) Act or behave in a jovial and exuberant fashion
  • to monkey (around) (v) Behave in a silly or playful way

I am leaning towards to romp currently.

  • Overactive. There are also a couple of medical terms that have entered mainstream culture in the past ten years or so, but personally, I feel that to use them in mainstream culture is similar to labeling someone, so I personally would not use them, but in the interest of fairness and increasing your knowledge, the terms "ADHD" and "ADD" are also used at times to describe the kind of children you're talking about. Feb 7, 2017 at 8:52
  • This comment, along with the posted answer, describe the characteristic of the child. I am actually aiming for a verb that can be used in this situation. I edited my post to clarify this.
    – whatisit
    Feb 7, 2017 at 9:25
  • 1
    There is one verb--roughhousing, which means "rough, disorderly playing, especially indoors", but it is not restricted to children. However, your description does not really sound like a child who is misbehaving: "after a short time s/he goes elsewhere in the room to play, and this pattern basically repeats. This activity is likely generally noisy, but not necessarily so". Are you saying the child is hyperactive? Feb 7, 2017 at 17:39
  • 1
    I think "acting up/out" probably suggests something with more negative intentions. "Disruptive", seems reasonable - however, I hesitate with it because a child is not necessarily disrupting (say, a parent) but could just be annoying or distracting. @cascabel As you mentioned, misbehaving will sometimes cover it but may not always. Roughhousing also seems a bit aggressive to me as well. However, roughhousing helped me search for other things, so it did help!
    – whatisit
    Feb 8, 2017 at 0:35
  • 1
    @TeacherKSHuang Your comments are worth turning into an answer. Feb 8, 2017 at 18:57

3 Answers 3


I think you're looking for hyperactive:

(of a child) showing constantly active and sometimes disruptive behaviour.


EDIT: Since you said you want a verb, the first one that comes to mind is flurry.

(of a person) move quickly in a busy or agitated way:

‘He propped himself up on his elbows and watched as she flurried around.’

I'll keep my thinking hat on.

  • This is only mildly helpful, but it describes the child rather than the activity as the title implies ("to play hyperactively" still seems like there is something better...). I edited my post to specify that I am looking for a verb to describe doing things this way, rather than a description of the child.
    – whatisit
    Feb 7, 2017 at 9:23
  • @whatisit: Got it. See edit.
    – Tushar Raj
    Feb 7, 2017 at 9:26
  • Yeah, sorry for the confusion. "Flurry" seems like a good start at least. I generally hear it used as a noun, so not immediately sure if it's best here.
    – whatisit
    Feb 7, 2017 at 9:31
  • Yes. It's not ideal. Let's wait for our American friends to wake up and see if they offer us some better suggestions :)
    – Tushar Raj
    Feb 7, 2017 at 9:33

Short Answer:

"Quit horsin' around."

Long Answer:

While your list is a good start, as noted in the comments, most of them have too much of a positive spin from the perspective of the child being chided.

This means that while the child would know by the tone of voice that the parent is not happy, the word would send the opposite message.

Based on the definitions you provide, the words which would immediately mean something negative to the child without having to check for tone of voice would be "to stop fooling around" or "to stop monkeying around."

They are "aimless" and "silly" behavior, respectively, and so, immediately obvious to be negative.

However, "monkeying around" might have an additional layer of meaning that implies they are both in the middle of a task and one person is procrastinating, for example, "Quit monkeying around and get back to business," so it might not be appropriate in all situations.

Which leaves us only with, "Stop fooling around."

And as I had mentioned in my comment, if going by only your choices, I would use, "Stop fooling around."

But having seen your "monkeying around" example, I immediately thought of another animal-related one, "horsing around," and so I humbly present this idiom for your judgment.


I think the verb roughhouse comes close. I suspect its use is more common in the US, but you can find it in The Cambridge Online dictionary:roughhouse verb [ I ] US ​ /ˈrʌfˌhɑʊs, -ˌhɑʊz/ ​ to play in a rough and noisy way: The boys roughhoused outdoors.

I say the verb comes close, because it doesn't quite have the same meaning as "you are playing too rough."

  • 1
    @Cascabel Sorry. I see you have already given this answer in a comment. Why don't you post your comment as an answer, and then, since as you already know I liked it, I'll vote for it.
    – Airymouse
    Feb 13, 2017 at 14:58
  • No worries. I upvoted yours. Feb 13, 2017 at 19:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.