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1. a dramatic composition written for performance by actors on a stage, on television, etc.; drama
a. the performance of a dramatic composition
b. (in combination): playreader


any activity which is voluntary, gives pleasure, and has no apparent goal other than enjoyment.

A classical conceptualization of the play form in social life is Simmel's concept of SOCIABILITY. However, although to achieve its purpose sociability ideally must be divorced from ulterior 'serious‘ purpose, the importance of the functions served by sociability and play are left in no doubt. See also HOMO LUDENS, LEISURE, SOCIOLOGY OF SPORT.

The functions of play within child socialization are equally an important issue. Play is widely seen as essential for physical development, for learning skills and social behaviour and for personality development (see Millar, 1968, for full discussion). Play therapy is used as a technique for understanding young children's psychological problems and helping to resolve them (see KLEIN).



a type of nonproductive activity motivated not by its result but by the process itself. Play has existed throughout man’s entire history, interweaving with magic, rituals and cults, sports, military and other training, and art, particularly in its dramatic forms. Play is also characteristic of the higher animals. Cultural historians, ethnologists, psychologists (especially child psychologists), historians of religion, scholars of the arts, and researchers in sports and military affairs all study play. In mathematical game theory, play is defined as the mathematical model of a situation of conflict. The origin of play was considered to lie in magic and cult needs or in the innate biological necessities of the organism; it was also deduced from labor processes (G. V. Plekhanov, Letters Without an Address).

Play is connected to both training and relaxation because it simulates conflicts that are difficult or impossible to solve in the practical sphere of activity. Therefore, play is not only physical training but also the means of psychological preparation for future life situations. As an abstract model of conflict, play is easily turned into a form for expressing social contradictions—for example, the transformation of sports “fans” at the stadium into political parties in medieval Byzantium or children’s games as models of social conflicts in the adult world.

Play is related to art through the psychological orientation of the player, who simultaneously believes and does not believe in the reality of the conflict being performed, and through the corresponding dual character of his behavior. The question of the correlation of play and art was raised by I. Kant and given philosophical and anthropological substantiation by F. Schiller, who saw in play a specifically human form of vital activity: “a man plays only when he is in the full sense of the word a man, and he is fully a man only when he plays” (Sobr. soch., vol. 6, Moscow, 1957, p. 302). The genetic connection of art and play is likewise noted in positivistic conceptions of the origin of art —for example, in A.N. Veselovskii’s theory of syncretic primitive art and of the origin of art in rite and pageant.”

Both play and art, directed at mastering the world, possess a common property—they propose solutions not in the practical but in the conditional symbolic sphere, which can be used then as a model for practical behavior in the real world. There is, however, an essential difference between play and art. Play represents the mastery of a skill, a form of training, and a modeling of an activity and is characterized by the presence of a system of rules.


The German philosopher and psychologist K. Groos (1899) developed the first fundamental concept of play in psychology: in the play of animals, he saw the preliminary adaptation (“pre-exercise”) of the instincts to the conditions of future life. Before Groos, the English philosopher H. Spencer had viewed play as a manifestation of “surplus energy.” The theory of the Austrian psychologist K. Biihler on “functional pleasure” as the internal subjective motive for play was an important amendment to Groos’ teaching. The Dutch zoopsychologist F. Buytendijk proposed a theory opposed to Groos’: he thought that, rather than instincts, it was the more general primordial drives, which are beyond instincts, that underlay play (the drive for liberation, the drive to merge with one’s surroundings, and the drive for repetition). In the psychoanalytical conception of the Austrian physician S. Freud, play is regarded as wish fulfillment.

In Soviet psychology, the approach to play as a sociohistorical phenomenon was developed by L.S. Vygotskii, A.N. Leont’ev, and D.B. El’konin. Children’s games, in particular, are regarded as a way of including the child in the world of human actions and relationships. Children’s games arise at the stage of social development when highly evolved forms of labor prevent the child’s direct participation in labor at the same time as his upbringing creates a yearning for a joint life with adults.


Plekhanov, G.V. Soch., vol. 14. Moscow, 1925. Pages 54–64.
Leont’ev, A.N. Problemy razvitiia psikhiki. Moscow, 1971.
Groos, K. Die Spiele der Tiere. Jena, 1896.
Groos, K. Die Spiele des Menschen. Jena, 1899.
Biihler, K. Die Krise der Psychologic Jena, 1929.
Buytendijk, F.J. Wesen und Sinn des Spiels. Berlin, 1934.
Huizinga, j. Homo ludens. London, 1949.



(mechanical engineering)
Free or unimpeded motion of an object, such as the motion between poorly fitted or worn parts of a mechanism.


The separation between moving parts to reduce friction.


A term used to indicate the relative movement between parts. As in the case of flight controls, play is the amount of movement of the control stick or the yoke without causing any movement of the control surfaces.


(language, music)
A language for real-time music synthesis. 1977.

["An Introduction to the Play Program", J. Chadabe ete al, Computer Music J 2,1 (1978)].
References in periodicals archive ?
as the means of understanding Hieronimo's role as the hierophantic figure who conducts the mystery playlet and causes the fall of Babylon/Spain.
In off-stage competitions, other Ynys Mon members scored points for the federation, including: Composition - Nia Wyn Efans, Penmynydd YFC (3rd); Write a playlet - Mared Huws, Rhosybol YFC, (2nd); Limerick - Manon Dafydd, Penmynydd YFC (2nd); Art 3D sculpture - Aron Horman, Rhosybol YFC (2nd); Sentence - Catrin Roberts, Penmynydd YFC (2nd).
Michael Frayn's Alarms and Excursions is a series of eight farce playlets about the chaos caused by misunderstandings and incomprehensible gadgets.
Falstaff is sophistic again when, speaking as Prince Hal in the playlet, he verbally translates his own gluttony and dissoluteness to virtue: "If sack and sugar be a fault, God help the wicked
Jones, Betws yn Rhos; Folk Song - Mali Elwy, Llansannan; Pop song - Eluned Evans, Nantglyn; Two or Three voice party - Uwchaled; Humorous dialogue on spot - Dafydd Parry and Elis Jones, Ruthin; Cerdd Dant - Llansannan boys; Playlet - Mali and Ianto Williams, Llansannan; Solo under 26 - Sion Eilir Roberts, Ruthin; humorous duet - Ifan Roberts and Glain V.
Following on from a workshop the previous Sunday, Peter Stead, Ian Baxter and Lesley Baxter read a humorous playlet entitled The Prodigal Daughter, which was a modern slant on the bible story about forgiveness.
In this way, Hieronimo's multilingual playlet, Solimon and Perseda, becomes both a mirror for classically influenced English drama and a way of rendering linguistic confusion chillingly effective as legal forum when the play erases the border between theatrical fiction and moral reality to enact justice of a most ancient, Senecan kind.
Jamie Roberts went for the classic salute the sky move while Shane "Marcel Marceau" Williams marked the skinning of Bryan Habana with a curious mimed playlet behind the posts.
The playlet Distractions, which members of Highbury Little Theatre, backed by West Midlands Police, present on request at day centres and old people's homes, makes a one-off appearance on its home ground this morning.