Last week I was talking with a woman friend who said, “My husband keeps telling me I need to spend more time playing.”

Her comment resonated with me, as my husband and some of my male friends have said the same to me.

We agreed that while neither of us considers ourselves “playful,” we both like to have fun. While our definition of fun doesn’t include going to the playground or even adult playgrounds like golf courses, we agreed that our time together in conversation is something we both describe as fun. 

We decided to look up the definition of the two words and found the Oxford dictionary defines them similarly.

Play – activity engaged in for enjoyment and recreation

Fun – enjoyment, amusement, or lighthearted pleasure

So if they mean the same, here’s our wondering:

  • Do men and women define the words play and fun differently to themselves?
  • Or is play an extrovert term rather than a gendered term? 
  • Is one person’s play, or fun, another’s work? e.g., an introverted detail-oriented person might find it fun to analyze spreadsheets, while an extrovert would describe this as work.
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