play it as it lays

Discussion in 'English Only' started by jokker, Mar 11, 2006.

  1. jokker Senior Member

    For those who call this little piece a Sour Grapes Rant, play it as it lays.

    Could you please explain what "play it as it lays" means? Is it an idiom? I couldn't find it in the dictionary. Thank you very much.
  2. virtdave Senior Member

    english, USA
    It means to accept the existing conditions when acting on a problem.

    I believe the expression may have originated in the game of golf, where, if your golf ball is badly positioned (like behind a tree) you have the option of tossing it over your shoulder to try to improve the position (and take a penalty on your score) or to try to "play it as it lays" and hit it where it is.
  3. jokker Senior Member

    Thank you so much, virtdave!
    I don't know golf but your explanation teach me the expression and golf(a little bit) at the same time. It's clear now. Thanks a lot.
  4. chrisisfree New Member

    Hmmmm...I've spent a little time researching the idiom "Play it as it lays," which Joan Didion used for the title of her 1970 novel. Golf seems improbable to me--the usage in golf is regulalry how the ball LIES and is one of the few instances where LIE is used "correctly."

    More likely in Didion's case is the usage from the dice game CRAPS. On Wikipedia, there's a reference to a "lay bet" vs. a "play bet." The LAY bet has truer odds--betting for a SEVEN to be rolled before a six or eight. Didion's novel is a Nevada/California story, and gambling is a part of it.

    Thoughts? Craps players? GUYS AND DOLLS afficianados?
  5. Cypherpunk Senior Member

    Springdale, AR
    US, English
    Chris is right. The golf phrase is 'play it as it lies'. You'll get something like 65 million hits for this phrase, right now, probably more tomorrow.
    I can't comment on the craps explanation, but I can confirm it's not golf.
  6. JamesM

    JamesM Senior Member

    I've always thought it was equivalent to "play the cards you are dealt." I assumed it was a card reference, probably poker. I have nothing to back that up. :)

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