What does it mean to play “for keeps”?


Playing for keeps is a fun way to add another element of competition to a game of marbles. When a player knocks another player’s marbles out of the circle, that player’s marbles become their property. 

Playing for keeps with younger children and inexperienced players can lead to irritation and arguments. As a result, we do not advise “playing for keeps.”

What does it mean to play “for keeps”?

The term “play for keeps” has been around for almost 150 years. An idiom is a word, phrase, or collection of words that has a figurative meaning that is difficult to determine from its literal definition. Common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language to convey a brief notion, and are often spoken or considered informal or conversational. They often include descriptive imagery or metaphors. Even when the derivation or origin of the idiomatic expression is forgotten, English idioms can convey emotion more swiftly than a word with a literal meaning. A metaphorical figure of speech is known as an idiom, and it is accepted that it is not a literal usage of language. Figures of speech, such as a common metaphor, contain meanings and connotations that go beyond the actual meaning of the words. The English student must master the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may include slang phrases or other aspects of speech found in American or British slang. 

Many English as a Second Language students don’t understand idiomatic expressions and language like hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs because they try to translate them word for word, which only gives them the literal meaning. Idiomatic English expressions should not be taken literally. In order to comprehend English like a native speaker, one must acquire the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases; it is important to keep a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular idioms to memorise that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We’ll look at what the phrase “play for keeps” means, where it came from, and some instances of how it’s used in sentences.

Playing with marbles tips

The more marbles you start with, the longer the game will be. For each player, you’ll also need a shooter marble. A shooter marble is distinguished from the other marbles in the set by its size. Use a longer string for a larger circle to make the game more difficult. The game of marbles will be easier and faster if the string is shorter. As the kids get stronger at marbles, start the game by arranging them in fun patterns like zig-zags and circles.


Playing for keeps entails being brutal, taking things seriously and without compassion. When someone is playing for a living, he is fully committed to winning at all costs. Around 1860, the phrase “play for keeps” was used to describe a specific type of marble game. The marble players in merciless games play for keeps, which means that the winner gets to keep all of the marbles he wins from his opponent during the game. Plays for keeps, played for keeps, and playing for keeps are all related terms. The expression is frequently abbreviated as “for keeps.”