play safe 12

play safe: meaning and explanation

to play  safe = to be cautious and minimise risks. We can also say play it safe, e.g. I’m probably being overcautious but I’m going to play it safe and allow an extra hour to get to the airport in time. 

There are many situations in which there is a risk of something bad happening (e.g. it might rain on your way to work). Some people are happy to take this risk (and not take an umbrella). Other people would prefer to play it safe (and take an umbrella).

Have a go at this dictation exercise to hear this expression being used in context – how much can you understand?

Dictation #1

Accent: North America

, , .
looks fine , I still should and take umbrella, .
I it looks fine now, I still we should play it and take an umbrella, in case.

…just in case…

just in case = just to be prepared. e.g. I don’t think we’ll need any money at the wedding, but we should take some just in case.

Discussion questions

Write your answers to these questions in the comments section, and I’ll get back to you with some feedback:

  • Are you a naturally cautious person, or do you generally play it safe?
  • Can you think of an example of a time when you played it safe? Or a time when you regret not playing it safe?

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Taty Scott
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Taty Scott

Well I have to play safe all time with my job because the life and future of my patients rely completely on me,every detail is extremely important but when it comes to my life,honestly I tend to be impulsive and usually never play safe.
Thank you.

idaro
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idaro

I consider myself a cautious person but you never know what’s coming about. I usually play safe and back up my most important computer files, but my usual backup copy slipped my mind once and unfortunately the computer didn’t work next day. I lost some of the most recent files.

Aline
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Aline

I usually play it safe, but I think this is because of my mother. She always makes me to be cautious. When I do a test, I always bring an extra pen with me, just in case the first one fail

Aline
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Aline

Thank you for answering! About the sentence…. Would it be “I always bring an extra pen with me, just in case the first one failS”?

Marisela
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Marisela

As I live in Bogota, the weather is quite unpredictable. When I started living here, I didn’t know that. I can think of a time when the sky was nice, blue and clear, so I took no umbrella at all. However, it poured down hours later, so I got completely wet, I even caught a nasty cold which cleared up after a couple of weeks. From then on, I always play it safe, and take my umbrella not matter what the day looks like. When some friends come around, they often make a fun of me because I go out… Read more »

Elizabeth
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Elizabeth

I definitely play it safe with my job because every single detail it is important to my team and everything rely on me as a boss, but if we talk about life I think it is good to take some risk as teenagers say you only live once.

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