Well played is a bittersweet online catchphrase often seen in gaming forums and on meme platforms.
A person who says “well played” owns his defeat in a mature, classy manner.
The phrase is used to show admiration when someone completes a task beautifully, or wins a competition, either against you or anyone else.
Just to confuse you, the phrase can also be used i the exact opposite situation.
If someone fails miserably at a task or competition, you could sarcastically tell them “well played”, just to make them feel bad, like any good friend would.
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The first written instance of “well played” was in the 1894 farce called Well Played, or, The Major’s Dilemma: An Entirely New and Original Farce in One Act by British Arthur Francis
The play takes on the competitive environment of egocentric nobles in the face of conflict.
Spread and Usage
While the phrase has existed and been moderately used for over a century, its popularity increased significantly in 2012 when the first “well played” memes started circulating the internet.
The memes come in two forms. One is a reaction meme, such as the screenshot of Leonardo Dicaprio wearing a suit, cheering, with the caption “Well played, Sir… Well played”.
The other type is any image that shows a clever and obvious backstory with the caption “well played”, to show appreciation for their cleverness.
An example is an image of a birthday cake disguised as a bunch of artichokes, so that no one will bother to try to steal a slice, because they think it’s just some vegetables.
The image is captioned with “well played” in bold, white letters.
- Urban Dictionary – Well played