English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
Alphabetical List - P
|play footsie||If you play
footsie with someone, you touch their
feet lightly, especially under the table, to
show your interest.
Pete says they were playing footsie at the office Christmas lunch.
|play to the gallery||A person who
plays to the gallery tries to gain
popularity by behaving in a way that will
appeal to the majority.
It's no secret that he got elected by playing to the gallery.
|play the game||If you play the
game, you accept to do things according
to generally-accepted customs or code of
Not all website owners play the game. Some download content from other sites without permission.
|play games with someone||If you are not
completely honest, or behave in a way that
is insincere, evasive or intentionally
misleading, you are playing games with
Look, stop playing games with us. Just tell us if you're interested in the project or not.
|play havoc||If someone or
something plays havoc, they cause
disorder and confusion.
The floods played havoc with the construction work.
|play the market||If you play the
market, you buy stocks and shares in
the hope of making a profit when you sell
It's always tempting to play the market, but it's more risky at the present time.
|play by the rules||If you play by
the rules, you behave in a fair and
honest way with people.
You can trust him, don't worry. He always plays by the rules.
|play into someone's hands||If you play
into someone's hands, you do exactly
what your opponent or enemy wants you to do,
so that they gain an advantage over you.
When the leaders of the protest movement became violent, they played right into the hands of the police.
|play possum||When someone
plays possum, they pretend to be dead
or asleep in order to avoid something they
don't want to do.
Sarah's not asleep. She's just playing possum because she doesn't want to come swimming.
|play second fiddle||If you play
second fiddle to another person, you
accept to be second in importance to that
person, or have a lower position.
John resented having to play second fiddle to the sales manager when the company was restructured.
|play for time||If you play for
time, you try to delay or prevent
something from happening in order to gain an
He decided to play for time in the hope that the price would decrease.
|play truant||A young person who
plays truant stays away from school
without permission or excuse.
Ben has no reason to be absent from school - he's playing truant again!
|play a waiting game||If you play a
waiting game, you deliberately delay
taking action in order to be able to act
more effectively later.
The cat keeps its eye on the bird, carefully playing a waiting game.
|(not) playing with a full deck (of cards)||Someone who is
not playing with a full deck (of cards)
lacks intelligence or does not have full
Old Mrs.Whitehead was not playing with a full deck when she bought that fancy lawnmower!
|pleased/proud as punch||Someone who is as
pleased or as proud as punch is
delighted or feels very satisfied about
Danny was as proud as punch when he won the tennis match.
Enjoying something which is not generally
held in high regard, while at the same time
feeling a bit guilty about it, is called a
Reading gossip magazines is a guilty pleasure for many women… and some men too!
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