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?

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    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 '15 at 14:43


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:


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  • Used Macmillan English Dictionary, my favourite. Thanks for pointing to another source! – Denis Kulagin Nov 6 '15 at 12:26
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    @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 '15 at 15:58

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