Definition of


  1. (noun, tops) something that people do or cause to happen
  2. (noun, communication) a legal document codifying the result of deliberations of a committee or society or legislative body
  3. (noun, communication) a short theatrical performance that is part of a longer program
    she had a catchy little routine
    it was one of the best numbers he ever did
  4. (noun, communication) a subdivision of a play or opera or ballet
  5. (noun, communication) a manifestation of insincerity
  6. (verb, body) behave in a certain manner; show a certain behavior; conduct or comport oneself
    Don't behave like a fool
    What makes her do this way?
    The dog acts ferocious, but he is really afraid of people
  7. (verb, body) pretend to have certain qualities or state of mind
    She plays deaf when the news are bad
  8. (verb, competition) discharge one's duties
    In what capacity are you acting?
  9. (verb, creation) play a role or part
    She wants to act Lady Macbeth, but she is too young for the role
    She played the servant to her husband's master
  10. (verb, creation) perform on a stage or theater
    He acted in `Julius Caesar'
    I played in `A Christmas Carol'
  11. (verb, creation) behave unnaturally or affectedly
  12. (verb, social) perform an action, or work out or perform (an action)
    We must move quickly
    The governor should act on the new energy bill
    The nanny acted quickly by grabbing the toddler and covering him with a wet towel
  13. (verb, social) be engaged in an activity, often for no particular purpose other than pleasure
  14. (verb, social) have an effect or outcome; often the one desired or expected
    How does your idea work in practice?
    This method doesn't work
    The breaks of my new car act quickly
    The medicine works only if you take it with a lot of water
  15. (verb, stative) be suitable for theatrical performance

via WordNet, Princeton University

Antonyms of Act


Alternate forms of Act

Derivations: act, actable, acting, action, actor, actuate

Hyponyms: abidance, acquiring, acquit, act, act as, act involuntarily, act on, act out, act reflexively, act superior, action, activity, actuation, aggress, alternate, antagonise, antagonize, anticipate, approach, assay, assessment, assume, assumption, attack, attempt, backslap, bank, bear, begin, behave, bend over backwards, bluster, break down, bungle, carry, causation, causing, coact, come close, come forward, come out, come to the fore, commit, communicating, communication, comport, condescend, conduct, contend, continue, cope, counter, counteract, court, create, criticise, criticize, dally, dare, dawdle, deal, decree, deign, delivery, departure, deport, derivation, descend, digging up, discovery, disinterment, dispatch, disposal, disposition, distribution, disturb, do well, drive around, edict, effect, effectuation, egotrip, egress, egression, emergence, emote, enact, end up, engage, equalisation, equalization, essay, evade, exert, exhumation, fall over backwards, feign, festinate, fetch up, fiat, find, finish, finish up, flirt, follow, footle, force, foresee, forestall, forfeit, forfeiture, freeze, frivol, get around to, get by, getting, go, go about, go ahead, go along, go off at half-cock, go off half-cocked, go on, going, going away, grapple, group action, guard, had best, ham, ham it up, hasten, hinderance, hindrance, hire, hold back, hold off, hugger mugger, hurry, impersonate, implementation, inactivity, interact, interference, interrupt, jest, joke, judgement, judgment, keep, land up, leaning, leaving, legislative act, legitimation, leveling, look sharp, loosen up, lord it over, lose it, lower oneself, make, make a point, make as if, make believe, make bold, make do, make out, make sure, manage, maneuver, manoeuver, manoeuvre, menace, mime, misbehave, misconduct, misdemean, mitsvah, mitzvah, motivating, motivation, move, nonaccomplishment, nonachievement, nullity, obstetrical delivery, offer, oppose, optimise, optimize, order, overact, overplay, pantomime, parody, participate, partner, pay back, perform, permissive waste, perpetrate, persist in, piffle, play, play it by ear, plow ahead, portray, presume, pretend, proceed, proclamation, production, promulgation, propulsion, prosecute, puff up, pull, pursue, put on airs, quack, queen it over, race, rage, ramp, rampage, react, reciprocate, recovery, reenact, rejection, relax, repay, repeat, rescript, residence, residency, respond, retrieval, reward, romance, romanticize, running away, rush, sacrifice, satisfice, satisfise, sauce, seek, sentimentalise, sentimentalize, sentimentise, sentimentize, set about, sham, show-stopper, showstopper, simulate, snap, sneak, solicit, speech act, stampede, start, statute, stay, step forward, step to the fore, step up, stooge, stoop, stop, stoppage, stopper, storm, support, surprise, swagger, swash, swell, take, take care, take over, take part, take time by the forelock, take turns, touch, touching, toy, trifle, try, uncovering, underact, underplay, use, volunteer, vulgarise, vulgarize, wait, walk around, wanton, waste, wear, wearing, wind up, woo

Hypernyms: act, be, behave, bring home the bacon, come through, deliver the goods, do, dramatic composition, dramatic work, event, expression, instrument, legal document, legal instrument, manifestation, official document, perform, performance, public presentation, re-create, reflection, reflexion, serve, succeed, win

Origin of the word Act

  1. late 14c., from O.Fr. acte, from L. actus "a doing" and actum "a thing done," both from agere "to do, set in motion, drive, urge, chase, stir up," from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move" (cf. Gk. agein "to lead, guide, drive, carry off," agon "assembly, contest in the games," agogos "leader;" Skt. ajatimore

via Online Etymology Dictionary, ©2001 Douglas Harper

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