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Play vs Sport vs Disport vs Frolic vs Rollick vs Romp vs Gambol

Playsportdisportfrolicrollickrompgambol can all as verbs mean to engage in exercise or other activity as a pleasure or amusement, and as nouns mean exercise or activities engaged in for the sake of pleasure or amusement.

Play, the most general of these terms, suggests an opposition to work; like its antithesis it usually implies activity and often vigorous activity of body or mind, but it emphasizes the absence of any end except that of amusement, diversion, recreation, or pure enjoyment.

Sport and disport suggest a complete release not only from work but from seriousness; the terms imply indulgence in something which cheers, makes merry, or serves as a pastime.

Frolic suggests more gaiety, more levity, and more spontaneousness than any of the preceding terms; it often is used in reference to the lighthearted, joyous movements of children or young animals at play, but it also suggests the pastimes, antics, or pranks of those who have thrown off all care.

Rollick, infrequent as a noun and used chiefly in the form rollicking, adds to frolic implications of exuberance in gaiety and of reveling and therefore is used especially in reference to youths or young adults.

Romp suggests the boisterous care free frolicking of children, of rough boys, and of tomboys; it usually connotes running or racing in play.

Gambol suggests the leaping and skipping characteristic of lambs and young children; it comes close to frolic, but carries a stronger suggestion of joy in movement.