1. an amusement or pastime: children’s games.
  2. the material or equipment used in playing certain games: a store selling toys and games.
  3. a competitive activity involving skill, chance, or endurance on the part of two or more persons who play according to a set of rules, usually for their own amusement or for that of spectators.
  4. a single occasion of such an activity, or a definite portion of one: the final game of the season; a rubber of three games at bridge.
  5. the number of points required to win a game.
  6. the score at a particular stage in a game: With five minutes to play, the game was 7 to 0.
  7. a particular manner or style of playing a game: Her game of chess is improving.
  8. anything resembling a game, as in requiring skill, endurance, or adherence to rules: the game of diplomacy.
  9. a trick or strategy: to see through someone’s game.
  10. fun; sport of any kind; joke: That’s about enough of your games.
  11. wild animals, including birds and fishes, such as are hunted for food or taken for sport or profit.
  12. the flesh of such wild animals or other game, used as food: a dish of game.
  13. any object of pursuit, attack, abuse, etc.: The new boy at school seemed to be fair game for practical jokers.
  14. Informal. a business or profession: He’s in the real-estate game.
  15. Archaic. fighting spirit; pluck.

adjective, gam·er, gam·est.

  1. pertaining to or composed of animals hunted or taken as game or to their flesh.
  2. having a fighting spirit; plucky.
  3. Informal. having the required spirit or will (often followed by for or an infinitive): Who’s game for a hike through the woods?

verb (used without object), gamed, gam·ing.

  1. to play games of chance for stakes; gamble.
  2. to play computer or video games.

verb (used with object), gamed, gam·ing.

  1. to squander in gaming (usually followed by away).
  2. to manipulate to one’s advantage, especially by trickery; attempt to take advantage of: The policy is flawed and many people try to game the system.

  1. die game,
    1. to die after a brave struggle.
    2. to remain steadfast or in good spirits at the moment of defeat: He knew that as a candidate he didn’t have a chance in the world, but he campaigned anyway and died game.
  2. make game of, to make fun of; ridicule: to make game of the weak and defenseless.
  3. off (or on) one’s game,
    1. Sports.playing very badly (or very well).
    2. not functioning (or functioning) at one’s usual level: She’s been off her game since she came back from vacation.
  4. play games, to act in an evasive, deceitful, manipulative, or trifling manner in dealing with others: Don’t play games with me—I want to know if you love me or not!
  5. play the game, Informal.
    1. to act or play in accordance with the rules.
    2. to act honorably or justly: We naively assumed that our allies would continue to play the game.


  1. an amusement or pastime; diversion
  2. a contest with rules, the result being determined by skill, strength, or chance
  3. a single period of play in such a contest, sport, etc
  4. the score needed to win a contest
  5. a single contest in a series; match
  6. (plural; often capital) an event consisting of various sporting contests, esp in athleticsOlympic Games; Highland Games
  7. equipment needed for playing certain games
  8. short for computer game
  9. style or ability in playing a gamehe is a keen player but his game is not good
  10. a scheme, proceeding, etc, practised like a gamethe game of politics
  11. an activity undertaken in a spirit of levity; jokemarriage is just a game to him
    1. wild animals, including birds and fish, hunted for sport, food, or profit
    2. (as modifier)game laws
  12. the flesh of such animals, used as food: generally taken not to include fish
  13. an object of pursuit; quarry; prey (esp in the phrase fair game)
  14. informal work or occupation
  15. informal a trick, strategy, or deviceI can see through your little game
  16. obsolete pluck or courage; bravery
  17. slang, mainly British prostitution (esp in the phrase on the game)
  18. give the game away to reveal one’s intentions or a secret
  19. make game of or make a game of to make fun of; ridicule; mock
  20. off one’s game playing badly
  21. on one’s game playing well
  22. play the game to behave fairly or in accordance with rules
  23. the game is up there is no longer a chance of success


  1. informal full of fighting spirit; plucky; brave
  2. game as Ned Kelly or as game as Ned Kelly Australian informal extremely brave; indomitable
  3. (usually foll by for) informal prepared or ready; willingI’m game for a try


  1. (intr) to play games of chance for money, stakes, etc; gamble


  1. a less common word for lame 1 game leg

Old English gamen “game, joy, fun, amusement,” common Germanic (cf. Old Frisian game “joy, glee,” Old Norse gaman, Old Saxon, Old High German gaman “sport, merriment,” Danish gamen, Swedish gamman “merriment”), regarded as identical with Gothic gaman “participation, communion,” from Proto-Germanic *ga- collective prefix + *mann “person,” giving a sense of “people together.”

Meaning “contest played according to rules” is first attested c.1300. Sense of “wild animals caught for sport” is late 13c.; hence fair game (1825), also gamey. Game plan is 1941, from U.S. football; game show first attested 1961.


“lame,” 1787, from north Midlands dialect, of unknown origin, perhaps a variant of gammy (tramps’ slang) “bad,” or from Old North French gambe “leg” (see gambol (n.)).


“brave, spirited,” 1725, especially in game-cock “bird for fighting,” from game (n.). Middle English had gamesome (adj.) “joyful, playful, sportive.”


Old English gamenian “to play, jest, joke;” see game (n.). Modern usages probably represent recent formations from the noun. Related: Gamed; gaming.

In addition to the idioms beginning with game

  • game is not worth the candle, the
  • game is up, the
  • game that two can play, that’s a

also see:

  • ahead of the game
  • at this stage (of the game)
  • badger game
  • beat someone at his or her own game
  • call someone’s bluff (game)
  • confidence game
  • end game
  • fair game
  • fun and games

give away (the game)losing battle (game)name of the gameonly game in townplay a waiting gameplay gamesplay the gamewaiting gamewhole new ball game.

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