Play It by Ear: How to Use This English Idiomatic Phrase?

Play it by ear!!! What is the meaning of “play it by ear”?

Play It by Ear

Meaning of “Play It by Ear”

Play it by ear means to deal with a situation as it unfolds without a definite plan; to make changes or decisions and proceed gradually as a situation demands, without planning out one’s responses in advance; to improvise.

For example:

  • Mukund, I know you are a control freak, but this time you’ll have to play it by ear.
  • I have no clue how Nalini’s parents are going to react. I’ll have to play it by ear.
  • I don’t have a plan for my life. I just play it by ear.
  • Would you rather we make a reservation for dinner or should we play it by ear?
  • Let’s make a plan for tomorrow. Whenever we play it by ear we just stay home and don’t do anything at all.
  • I’m not sure I can make it to dinner Friday night. I’ll have to play it by ear.
  • It’s hard to know how the situation will develop. Let’s just play it by ear.

“Play It by Ear” Synonyms

  • Improvise
  • Wing it (informal)
  • Ad-lib
  • Extemporize
  • Invent
  • Vamp
  • Speak off the cuff
  • Fake it
  • Craft
  • Do offhand
  • Devise

Useful Idioms with “Ear”

  • Fall on deaf ears: Be ignored, not listened to
  • Music to your ears: Something the person is pleased to hear about
  • Grin from ear to ear: Smile a lot, look very satisfied and happy
  • Lend an ear: Listen carefully and sympathetically
  • Turn a deaf ear: Refuse to listen or ignore what someone says
  • All ears: Listen willingly, wait for an explanation
  • Keep your ear to the ground: If you keep your ear to the ground, you make sure that you are aware of all that is happening and being said.
  • Make one’s ears burn: If something makes your ears burn, you are embarrassed by what you hear, especially if the conversation is about you.
  • Prick up your ears: Suddenly pay attention to what is being said
  • Go in one ear and out the other: Hear or listen but also neglect, listen but don’t care or pay attention
  • The walls have ear: Be careful what you say
  • Wet behind the ears: Inexperienced, immature, new to something
  • I’m all ears: Be ready to listen or open to new ideas
  • Have someone’s ear: Have access to speak to someone who has power or authority who will listen to you
  • Give someone an earful: Angrily express an opinion to someone
Related  School Idioms: 40+ Popular School Idioms in English

Useful Idioms with “Ear” in English

Idioms with Ear

Common Phrase with “Play”

  • Play a role (in): A person, thing, company, etc. had a part in something
  • Play up: To take the situation seem bigger, more important, more dramatic, or more extreme than it really is
  • Play your cards right: Regardless of what you have, you can win or be successful if you use your resources wisely
  • Play the system: To take advantage of the rules of a specific system for your own benefit
  • Play second fiddle (to someone): To be subordinate them, to be of lesser importance than someone else
  • Play for time: You deliberately try to delay something.
  • Play with fire: When you play with fire, you take a very big risk, often risks that are unnecessary.
  • Play ball: To go with the flow, give in, or do what the other person wants you to do
  • Play the innocent: You pretend that you do not understand what is happening and that it has nothing to do with you.
  • Play straight into someone’s hands: To help them without meaning to or do exactly what they want you to do, especially if you don’t want to

Common English Phrase with “Play”

Phrase with Play

Play It by Ear Infographic

Meaning of the Term “Play It By Ear”

Play It by Ear

Last Updated on June 16, 2020

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