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Play off   /pleɪ ɔf/   Listen
Play off

verb
1.
Set into opposition or rivalry.  Synonyms: match, oppose, pit.  "Pit a chess player against the Russian champion" , "He plays his two children off against each other"






WordNet 3.0 © 2010 Princeton University








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"Play off" Quotes from Famous Books



... wonderful results. But a boy is like a galvanic battery that is not in connection with anything; he generates electricity and plays it off into the air with the most reckless prodigality. And I, for one, would n't have it otherwise. It is as much a boy's business to play off his energies into space as it is for a flower to blow, or a catbird to sing snatches of the tunes of all ...
— Baddeck and That Sort of Thing • Charles Dudley Warner

... flowery green, And mass be sung where operas are seen. The wealthy cit, and the St. James's beau, Shall change their quarters, and their joys forego; Stock-jobbing, this to Jonathan's shall come, At the Groom Porter's, that play off his plum. ...
— The Poems of Jonathan Swift, D.D., Volume I (of 2) • Jonathan Swift

... everything, scorning all explanation or modification, goading peculiarities into reckless extravagance, on purpose to puzzle and startle, and so avenging himself by playing off upon those who attempted to play off upon him. To the gentle, the reverent, the receptive, the simple, he, too, ...
— The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 13, No. 78, April, 1864 • Various

... not strike at the very root of the matter by exposing those stupid plagiarists who were attempting to play off upon the intelligence of the Roman world a clumsy imitation of the far-famed Buddha? It was the very kind of thing that the enemies of Christianity wanted. Why should the adroit Porphyry attempt to work up a few mere scraps of resemblance from the life of Pythagoras, ...
— Oriental Religions and Christianity • Frank F. Ellinwood

... to think you have a licence to play off any impertinent freaks you please, without consideration for any one," he said; "but I tell you it is not so. As long as you are under my roof, you shall feel my authority, and you shall spend the rest of the day in your room. I hope quietness ...
— The Daisy Chain, or Aspirations • Charlotte Yonge

... get waxy! Wait till I explain. I'll give you twenty-five dollars, Garwood. You can do a whole lot with twenty-five dollars. And that's a mighty generous offer. All you've got to do is to play off for a couple of days. Tomorrow you could be kind of sick and not able to play. No one would think anything about it, and you can bet I wouldn't breathe a word of ...
— The New Boy at Hilltop • Ralph Henry Barbour

... the consequences, and resolved to try and play off the French for their clever finesse. He looked about for a match for the redoubtable French gamester, and soon got information of a party who might serve his turn. This was a midshipman at Moscow, named Cruckoff, ...
— The Gaming Table: Its Votaries and Victims - Volume II (of II) • Andrew Steinmetz

... responsible for the policy in India, where some seventy millions of Moslems live under the English rule. England, so far, in accordance with the principle of divide et impera, has attempted to play off the Mohammedan against the Hindu population. But now that a pronounced revolutionary and nationalist tendency shows itself among these latter, the danger is imminent that Pan-Islamism, thoroughly roused, should unite with the revolutionary elements ...
— Germany and the Next War • Friedrich von Bernhardi

... play off from school in the morning must work in the afternoon," Karl said at luncheon, and they went to their work that afternoon ...
— The Glory Of The Conquered • Susan Glaspell

... great over-proportion of that peculiar class (the Undergraduates) to whom the contest is open,—that such a victory was an indisputable criterion of very conspicuous merit. In fact, never in any place did Mr. Wilson play off his Proteus variety of character and talent with so much brilliant effect as at Oxford. In this great University, the most ancient, and by many degrees the most magnificent in the world, he found a stage for ...
— The Uncollected Writings of Thomas de Quincey—Vol. 1 - With a Preface and Annotations by James Hogg • Thomas de Quincey

... I shan't have time to complete your education in a month. Now, I'm talking seriously. Put that play off! You're only a child, you've made a mint of money out of this present abomination. If you'll wait ...
— The Education of Eric Lane • Stephen McKenna

... boy, have you seen your picture? Here it is!" And he pulls out a portrait, executed in photography, of your humble servant, as an immense and most unpleasant-featured baboon, with long hairy hands, and called by the waggish artist "A Literary Gorilla." O horror! And now you see why I can't play off this joke myself, and moralize on the fable, as it has ...
— Roundabout Papers • William Makepeace Thackeray

... Moss took place; the king, vexed and shamed, sank into a fever and died at Falkland; in this reign the Reformation began to make progress in Scotland, and would have advanced much farther but that James had to support the clergy to play off their power against the ...
— The Nuttall Encyclopaedia - Being a Concise and Comprehensive Dictionary of General Knowledge • Edited by Rev. James Wood

... Haydn's actual dismissal from the school must be laid at the door of his love of fun, and that one who was so hard-working and so wrapped up in his music should have been unable to resist the temptation to play off a practical joke upon one of his colleagues under the very eyes of the Capellmeister. Nevertheless, such was the case, and a bright new pair of scissors, which had found their way into his possession, was the means by which Joseph executed his joke, and at the ...
— Story-Lives of Great Musicians • Francis Jameson Rowbotham

... one to reach the objective line wins; or, if a relay, scores for his division. The division wins that gets the largest score. If desired, the winners, i.e. those scoring for the different lines, may "play off" against each other, after all of the other players ...
— Games for the Playground, Home, School and Gymnasium • Jessie H. Bancroft

... slow to realize that the mighty hold which the papacy had once possessed on the deep heart of the world was being sapped at its foundation. Diplomatic pontiffs still managed for a time to play off one sovereign against another, and to have their battles fought by foreign armies on a business basis. As late as the year 1300 the first great jubilee of the Church was celebrated and brought ...
— The Great Events by Famous Historians, Volume VI. • Various

... those who were most anxious to get rid of them. But this was not really the case. Whether the fluctuations in the Sultan's policy had been due to mere fear and irresolution, or whether they had to some extent proceeded from the desire to play off one Power against another, it was to Russia, not France, that his final confidence was given. The soldiers of the Czar were encamped by the side of the Turks on the eastern shore of the Bosphorus; his ships lay below Constantinople. Here on the ...
— History of Modern Europe 1792-1878 • C. A. Fyffe

... decrees, by excluding British ships and merchandise.[368] Under such conditions, argument with a sceptical British ministry was attended with difficulties. The position to which the Government had become reduced, by endeavoring to play off France and Great Britain against each other, in order to avoid a war with either, was as perplexing as humiliating. "Great anxiety,"[369] to which little sympathy can be extended, was felt in Washington as to the evidence for the actuality of ...
— Sea Power in its Relations to the War of 1812 - Volume 1 • Alfred Thayer Mahan

... sail vanishing over the horizon. Some Chinese fishing-boat had made that island in our absence, and these two skunks had gone away in her and left us, their companions, to shift for ourselves. That's the sort the Quicks were!—those were the sort of tricks they'd play off on so-called friends! Do you wonder, either of you, that both Noah and Salter eventually got—what ...
— Ravensdene Court • J. S. (Joseph Smith) Fletcher

... Potion of "Roderick Random" must, like his rival, Crab, have been merely a fancy sketch of meanness, hypocrisy, and profligacy. Perhaps the good surgeon became the victim of that "one continued string of epigrammatic sarcasms," such as Mr. Colquhoun told Ramsay of Ochtertyre, Smollett used to play off on his companions, "for which no talents could compensate." Judging by Dr. Carlyle's Memoirs this intolerable kind of display was not unusual in Caledonian conversation: but it was not likely to make Tobias ...
— Adventures among Books • Andrew Lang

... intelligence—even for all the kinds that Noah took into the ark, perhaps, although the theory is still nebulous and undefined. Now, I would beg the kind-hearted adherents to this theory not to think I am seeking to play off a satirical pleasantry upon it, if I express a hope, which is earnest and true, that, if there be an immortality for any class of dumb animals, the donkey shall go into it first, and have a better place in it than their parlor dogs or nicely-groomed horses. ...
— A Walk from London to John O'Groat's • Elihu Burritt

... those beggarly parsons! What possessed them, that they should fix upon his family to play off their machinations upon! Lucy Carradyne was his niece: she should never be grabbed up by one of them while he ...
— The Argosy - Vol. 51, No. 2, February, 1891 • Various

... to give him an opportunity. There was something extremely provoking in this obstinately pacific system; it left Brom no alternative but to draw upon the funds of rustic waggery in his disposition, and to play off boorish practical jokes upon his rival. Ichabod became the object of whimsical persecution to Bones and his gang of rough riders. They harried his hitherto peaceful domains, smoked out his singing-school by ...
— Legends That Every Child Should Know • Hamilton Wright Mabie

... "Did I not do it well?" she exclaimed. "I thought I'd play off a joke upon you, so I came out this ...
— East Lynne • Mrs. Henry Wood

... wrote him: "Here is a play which every manager has put out-of-doors and which every actor known to us has refused, and now we go and give it to an elocutioner. We are fools." Whether Clemens agreed with me or not in my conclusion, he agreed with me in my premises, and we promptly bought our play off the stage at a cost of seven hundred dollars, which we shared between us. But Clemens was never a man to give up. I relinquished gratis all right and title I had in the play, and he paid its entire expenses for a week of one-night stands ...
— Henry James, Jr. • William Dean Howells

... Leonisa to dress herself just as she had appeared in the tent before the two pashas, for he wished to play off a pleasant trick upon his relations. She did so, adding jewels to jewels, pearls to pearls, and beauty to beauty (for it increases with the satisfaction of the heart), to the renewed admiration and astonishment of all. Ricardo and Mahmoud also dressed themselves in ...
— The Exemplary Novels of Cervantes • Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

... encouragement from Cabul, but it is at least doubtful whether the somewhat exaggerated deference shown to the Ameer on the occasion of his visit three years ago to India has permanently improved our relations with him, and though he is no longer able to play off Russia and England against each other, he has not yet brought himself to signify his adhesion to the Convention which defined our understanding with Russia in regard to Afghan affairs. The condition of Persia, and especially of the southern ...
— Indian Unrest • Valentine Chirol

... "Rat's Castle." It stood on the brink of a delf, the site of which is now occupied by the Prescot-street Bridewell. This person used to try experiments with food, such as cooking spiders, blackbeetles, rats, cats, mice, and other things not in common use; and, it is said, was wont to play off tricks upon unsuspecting strangers by placing banquets before them that were quite unexpected and unprecedented in the nature and ...
— Recollections of Old Liverpool • A Nonagenarian

... her to Berlin,' said Elsmere after a pause. 'You must play off her music against this unlucky feeling. If it exists it is your ...
— Robert Elsmere • Mrs. Humphry Ward

... was evidently their desire to show off; for they moved in order of battle as they called it, in a line, the two who had spears holding them bravely up. It was certainly a pretty sight to see them play off this little exercise. But in the evening, after dark, they returned from feeding their camels somewhere in the mountains, and came and bivouacked close to us and our baggage. This alarmed us, and we sent En-Noor to remonstrate ...
— Narrative of a Mission to Central Africa Performed in the Years 1850-51, Volume 1 • James Richardson

... "Don't try to play off innocent," he said, severely. "You know as well as I do what I mean. But it isn't you I'm after most," he continued. "It's this one," and he pointed to Margery. Margery buried her face in Nyoda's arm. Nyoda saw it was no use. "Are you looking for ...
— The Campfire Girls Go Motoring • Hildegard G. Frey

... gets a third, and the other two-thirds are equally divided between the contending teams. The proceeds of the stand, however, went to the Rangers' funds, as that club gave their ground free of charge to the Association to play off the tie. Paisley Road and Govan Road presented a scene to be remembered from two o'clock till well on for 3.30 P.M., being thronged with vehicles of every kind, from the carriage and pair, the hansom and cab, down to the modest van. Pedestrians, too, were numerous, and on the Govan ...
— Scottish Football Reminiscences and Sketches • David Drummond Bone

... his attic to snatch a few hours' sleep, the garrison seemed likely to resume its old strength. The news of the widow's capture exhilarated them all. Even those who had come dejectedly felt that they now possessed a hostage to play off, as a last card, against ...
— Two Sides of the Face - Midwinter Tales • Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch

... word. First of all I was minded to play off a little surprise 'pon old Toms, the landlord, who didn' know me from Adam. But hearin' this, just as I was a-leadin' up to my little joke, I thought maybe 'twould annoy Na'mi. She used to be very strict in some ...
— The Delectable Duchy • Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch

... not; a good man, a man holding religious office, as does the Abbe Busoni, could not condescend to deceive or play off a joke; but your excellency has ...
— The Count of Monte Cristo • Alexandre Dumas, Pere

... churches of the city come together, both white and colored. I also recd. a notice of being elected to preach the Annual Sermon for the Dist. Grand Lodge K of P. in May of next year. Son pray for me for these are no small gatherings, no little honors. How would you like for me to play off and get you to fill my ...
— The Journal of Negro History, Volume 4, 1919 • Various

... There is never a man among them—nothing but fools, parasites, and puppets—never a man since with their coward daggers they slew that Caesar whom all the world in arms was not strong enough to tame. And I must play off one against the other, if maybe, by so doing, I can keep Egypt from their grip. And for reward, what? Why, this is my reward—that all men speak ill of me—and, I know it, my subjects hate me! Yes, I believe that, ...
— Cleopatra • H. Rider Haggard

... that of somnambulism. The skin is now insensible to pain, but excessive keenness is manifested in the sight, hearing, smell, and muscular sense. Here the impostor can play off his pretended clairvoyance or second sight; for the subject will discover objects hidden from sight by the sense of smell and other senses affected with abnormal power. The somnambulist will now exhibit the utmost sensibility to suggestions made to him by the ...
— Moral Principles and Medical Practice - The Basis of Medical Jurisprudence • Charles Coppens

... to Mrs. Harrison she began to play off her eyes at him, and he then perceived that they constituted her chief beauty. They were of that deep blue which, in certain lights, passes for black,—large, expressive, and pleasing; the sort of eyes that go right through ...
— The International Monthly, Volume 2, No. 4, March, 1851 • Various

... to-day. The unpractical may wonder why we, a people who fill some considerable place in the world, should mix in the petty intrigues of these border chieftains, or soil our hands by using such tools at all. Is it fitting that Great Britain should play off one brutal khan against his neighbours, or balance one barbarous tribe against another? It is as much below our Imperial dignity, as it would be for a millionaire to count the lumps in the sugar-basin. If it be necessary for the safety of our possessions ...
— The Story of the Malakand Field Force • Sir Winston S. Churchill

... before Philip left England, and he must have faced parliament too, and, if possible, have been crowned. If he went now, he would never come back; let him court the people advised the keen Renard; let him play off the people against the lords; there was ill blood between the rich and poor, ...
— The Reign of Mary Tudor • James Anthony Froude

... and Soldiers work, Whether the Pontiff or the Turk, Will e'er renew th' expiring lease Of Empire; whether War or Peace Will best play off the CONSUL'S game; What fancy-figures, and what name Half-thinking, sensual France, a natural Slave, On those ne'er-broken Chains, ...
— The Complete Poetical Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge - Vol I and II • Samuel Taylor Coleridge

... were treated was certainly not in accordance with Christian principles. No one ever addressed them but in the roughest manner, and they were kicked and cuffed about on every occasion; even the dirtiest little European cabin-boy on board was allowed to act in the most cruel manner, and play off the most ignoble practical jokes upon them. Unhappy creatures! how is it possible that they should feel any ...
— A Woman's Journey Round the World • Ida Pfeiffer

... to play off on me," replied the farmer, leading the way along the fence and motioning to Rodney to follow. "I know the whole story from beginning to end, but I can't take you where he is tonight. You'll have to stop with me ...
— Rodney The Partisan • Harry Castlemon

... influence. But the arrangements made between Charles and Francis contained, in themselves, as acute English diplomatists saw, the seeds of future disruption; and, in 1518, Wolsey was able (p. 109) so to play off these mutual jealousies as to reassert England's position. He imposed a general peace, or rather a truce, which raised England even higher than the treaties of 1514 had done, and made her appear as the conservator of the peace of Europe. England had almost ...
— Henry VIII. • A. F. Pollard

... foremost; but as certain as he joined in the romps, so surely were uproar and fighting the consequence. The reason was clear enough; his temper was so disagreeable, that although he was quite ready to play off his jokes on others, he could never bear to receive them in return; and being, besides, very fierce and strong, he came at length to be considered as the most unbearable bear that the forest had known for many generations, ...
— The Adventures of a Bear - And a Great Bear too • Alfred Elwes

... concealed character of Raoul Nathan is of a piece with his public career. He is a comedian in good faith, selfish as if the State were himself, and a very clever orator. No one knows better how to play off sentiments, glory in false grandeurs, deck himself with moral beauty, do honor to his nature in language, and pose like Alceste while behaving like Philinte. His egotism trots along protected by this ...
— A Daughter of Eve • Honore de Balzac



Words linked to "Play off" :   playoff, confront, face, match



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