-3

Urban Dictionary includes one explanation of "play" :

Anything to do with sexual relations: fooling around, making out, oral sex or having intercourse.

However, most of the formal-language dictionaries don't include this explanation, only interpreting the word as "to tease" which can describe something childlike such as flirtation, except the phrase "play ground" meaning:

Having sexual relations with other people who is not your partner.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary also suggests "play (n.)" as "flirtation", which can be converted into "flirt" with "play (v.)"

Is this a difference between the formal language and slang?

This question also leads to an answer which regards "play" as a synonym of "flirt".

word for a person that flirts with everyone?

  1. Does the slang term have a much broader meanings than the flirty activities implied in the formal language?

  2. Does the term imply being unfaithful?

18
  • 2
    play ground? The UD is not a reliable source at all for this kind of thing. When play refers to something sexual, as in "play around", it usually does not involve intercourse. "play around" is a colloquial phrasal verb.
    – Lambie
    May 17, 2023 at 21:46
  • 2
    Is there a difference between formal language and slang? Yes, and oh yeah. May 17, 2023 at 21:50
  • 1
    Precisely defining slang terms is a difficult task.
    – alphabet
    May 17, 2023 at 22:47
  • 1
    "Play" is often used for casual sex, and in various specialised communities (gay, BDSM, etc) for various sexual and fetish practices, as UD says. "Play around" is often used for extramarital sex, as well as to refer to heavy petting/foreplay etc. Generally many sexual terms are used very loosely, or if they once referred to mild practices are used euphemistically for something more serious.
    – Stuart F
    May 18, 2023 at 8:51
  • 1
    The question was “is this a difference between the formal language and slang”. Not really. M-W does slang. This is the difference between a reliable dictionary and one developed by people off the street. Urban Dictionary is not the product of lexicographers. The result is a mostly useless troll-fest of racism, misogyny, personal attacks, and bathroom humor. Avoid consulting Urban Dictionary when you have a real question. And unless such things truly entertain you, avoid it completely. Instead try Green’s Dictionary of Slang.
    – MetaEd
    May 18, 2023 at 16:24

1 Answer 1

2

I believe "play", with sexual overtones, is short for "play around" and that definition, well, I really think has a lot to do with the age and experiences of the individuals involved. Might be simply rolling in the grass touching each other and kissing, or, it could be heavy petting, rending of clothing and ending beyond "play".

2
  • Thanks for your answer! It made sense a lot. By the way, the reason why I specially illustrated sexual crime is that "play" traditionally refers to something normally entertaining no matter it is linked with sex. Despite poor knowledge of English and cultural difference, I assume that the term in English does not mean something seriously devil and malignant, such as forced intercourse. 🤔(Hope for your reply.)
    – RomanGhost
    May 18, 2023 at 17:07
  • Suppose I should say individual or individuals, one can "play" with themself.
    – Michael
    May 20, 2023 at 11:34

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