I have been reading a book and found a meaning of the verb to play with, which is not in the dictionary, but I bet I've heard it couple of times before.

The context:

Adam explained how, years ago they had played with genetics to try and ...

The meaning:

to play with something = to experiment with something

Could the verb to play with be used having such a meaning?

  • 4
    It's in the dictionary, but not all dictionaries. So it is hardly an undiscovered" meaning. To "play with" means "to tinker (with)" and that can mean "to experiment (with)".
    – user20792
    Nov 6, 2015 at 14:43

1 Answer 1



I'm not sure which dictionary you're using, but The American Heritage Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs lists that as definition #6 of to play with. The definitions are listed here:


  • Used Macmillan English Dictionary, my favourite. Thanks for pointing to another source! Nov 6, 2015 at 12:26
  • 2
    @DenisK - Another great resource is OneLook. Look up a word in OneLook and presto! Links to dozens of dictionaries for easy research. I'm also fond of Wordnik, which pulls from around 4 or so dictionaries with every lookup.
    – J.R.
    Nov 6, 2015 at 15:58

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