What is the meaning of “at play”?

Other than the meaning of engaged in playful activity, it can also mean:

(1) at play = in play = in action or operation, going on

Example:

A number of conflicting forces were in play, so the outcome was uncertain.
= A number of conflicting forces were going on, so the outcome was uncertain.

(2) at play = come into play = to be involved = play a role = relevant

Example:

I don’t think that personalities come into play in situations like this.
= I don’t think personalities are at play in situations like this.
= I don’t think that personalities are taken into consideration in situations like this.

There are many factors at play
= There are many factors that play a role

other motives coming into play are …..
= other motives relevant are ……
= other motives at play are ….

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