"Play-money" and "play-[sibling]"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Tue Dec 18 05:37:06 UTC 2012

Is anyone else familiar with the custom of referring to a close
childhood friend as a "play-brother, -sister, -mother, -father,"
wherein _play_ entails both "play (with)" and "pretend," as in
"play-money"? A play-sibling can be an actual, extended-family
sibling, such as a more-or-less-distant cousin.

This use is pretty much universal and old - my grandparents, born in
the 19th C., often spoke of some random [Name] as a play-sibling -
among blacks. Is it a general Southern thing or only one of those
you-wouldn't-understand black things?

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint
to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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