What Does Bring Something Into Play Mean?

Bring Into Play Meaning

Definition: to make something relevant.

This expression means to add a new factor to an existing situation that may change the outcome, or it can mean to activate an already existing factor that had not been having an effect.

Unused factors can be said to be out of play; thus, bringing them into the action brings them into play.

It can also literally be used when a ball goes out of bounds during a game, and it is brought back into the game.

Origin of Bring Something Into Play

bring into play definitionThis expression was originally used in sports, when a person or a ball was brought onto the playing field and into action. One of the earliest recorded examples is from an 1898 newspaper, The Jewish South:

  • To carry the simile still further, let us bring into play the lenses and cameras…

In the August 1901 edition of the New-York Tribune, we can see the same usage, meaning it was well into play at that point:

  • Most people have more or less athletic ambition nowadays, and the sailing canoe does not bring into play as many muscles as does the other.

Examples of Bring Something Into Play

meaning of brought into playIn the modern day, bringing something into play is to add a resource to what is available.

For example,

  • The police will be brought into play if the crowd becomes too rowdy.


  • His creativity was put into play when designing and constructing the new product.

It can also be used to talk about which factors are relevant, as in,

  • Even if he brings into play all the resources available, his company is going to go bankrupt by the end of the year.


  • Even without bringing into play his cooking skills, he is a very eligible bachelor.

More Examples

  • Indeed, given the nature of our institution and its history, such questions bring into play principles that already exist — sometimes in tension — with the university. –The Washington Times
  • On the eve of the Iowa caucuses, an optimistic Donald Trump says he’ll win swing states in the general election and bring into play states traditionally written off by the GOP. –USA Today


To bring something into play is to make something a factor or bring it into consideration.