Definitions for: Act


[n] something that people do or cause to happen
[n] a legal document codifying the result of deliberations of a committee or society or legislative body
[n] a short theatrical performance that is part of a longer program; "he did his act three times every evening"; "she had a catchy little routine"; "it was one of the best numbers he ever did"
[n] a subdivision of a play or opera or ballet
[n] a manifestation of insincerity; "he put on quite an act for her benefit"
[v] behave in a certain manner; show a certain behavior; conduct or comport oneself; "You should act like an adult"; "Don't behave like a fool"; "What makes her do this way?"; "The dog acts ferocious, but he is really afraid of people"
[v] pretend to have certain qualities or state of mind; "He acted the idiot"; "She plays deaf when the news are bad"
[v] discharge one's duties; "She acts as the chair"; "In what capacity are you acting?"
[v] play a role or part; "Gielgud played Hamlet"; "She wants to act Lady Macbeth, but she is too young for the role"; "She played the servant to her husband's master"
[v] perform on a stage or theater; "She acts in this play"; "He acted in"Julius Caesar"; "I played in"A Christmas Carol"
[v] behave unnaturally or affectedly; "She's just acting"
[v] perform an action, or work out or perform (an action); "think before you act"; "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"
[v] be engaged in an activity, often for no particular purpose other than pleasure
[v] have an effect or outcome; often the one desired or expected; "The voting process doesn't work as well as people thought"; "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"
[v] be suitable for theatrical performance; "This scene acts well"



Webster (1913) Definition: Act ([a^]kt), n. [L. actus, fr. agere to drive, do: cf. F.
acte. See Agent.]
1. That which is done or doing; the exercise of power, or the
effect, of which power exerted is the cause; a
performance; a deed.

That best portion of a good man's life, His little,
nameless, unremembered acts Of kindness and of love.
--Wordsworth.
Hence, in specific uses:
(a) The result of public deliberation; the decision or
determination of a legislative body, council, court of
justice, etc.; a decree, edit, law, judgment, resolve,
award; as, an act of Parliament, or of Congress.
(b) A formal solemn writing, expressing that something has
been done. --Abbott.
(c) A performance of part of a play; one of the principal
divisions of a play or dramatic work in which a
certain definite part of the action is completed.
(d) A thesis maintained in public, in some English
universities, by a candidate for a degree, or to show
the proficiency of a student.

2. A state of reality or real existence as opposed to a
possibility or possible existence. [Obs.]

The seeds of plants are not at first in act, but in
possibility, what they afterward grow to be.
--Hooker.

3. Process of doing; action. In act, in the very doing; on
the point of (doing). ``In act to shoot.'' --Dryden.

This woman was taken . . . in the very act. --John
viii. 4.

Act of attainder. (Law) See Attainder.

Act of bankruptcy (Law), an act of a debtor which renders
him liable to be adjudged a bankrupt.

Act of faith. (Ch. Hist.) See Auto-da-F['e].

Act of God (Law), an inevitable accident; such
extraordinary interruption of the usual course of events
as is not to be looked for in advance, and against which
ordinary prudence could not guard.

Act of grace, an expression often used to designate an act
declaring pardon or amnesty to numerous offenders, as at
the beginning of a new reign.

Act of indemnity, a statute passed for the protection of
those who have committed some illegal act subjecting them
to penalties. --Abbott.

Act in pais, a thing done out of court (anciently, in the
country), and not a matter of record.

Syn: See Action.


Act, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Acted; p. pr. & vb. n.
Acting.] [L. actus, p. p. of agere to drive, lead, do; but
influenced by E. act, n.]
1. To move to action; to actuate; to animate. [Obs.]

Self-love, the spring of motion, acts the soul.
--Pope.

2. To perform; to execute; to do. [Archaic]

That we act our temporal affairs with a desire no
greater than our necessity. --Jer. Taylor.

Industry doth beget by producing good habits, and
facility of acting things expedient for us to do.
--Barrow.

Uplifted hands that at convenient times Could act
extortion and the worst of crimes. --Cowper.

3. To perform, as an actor; to represent dramatically on the
stage.

4. To assume the office or character of; to play; to
personate; as, to act the hero.

5. To feign or counterfeit; to simulate.

With acted fear the villain thus pursued. --Dryden.

To act a part, to sustain the part of one of the characters
in a play; hence, to simulate; to dissemble.

To act the part of, to take the character of; to fulfill
the duties of.


Act, v. i.
1. To exert power; to produce an effect; as, the stomach acts
upon food.

2. To perform actions; to fulfill functions; to put forth
energy; to move, as opposed to remaining at rest; to carry
into effect a determination of the will.

He hangs between, in doubt to act or rest. --Pope.

3. To behave or conduct, as in morals, private duties, or
public offices; to bear or deport one's self; as, we know
not why he has acted so.

4. To perform on the stage; to represent a character.

To show the world how Garrick did not act. --Cowper.

To act as or for, to do the work of; to serve as.

To act on, to regulate one's conduct according to.

To act up to, to equal in action; to fulfill in practice;
as, he has acted up to his engagement or his advantages.

Synonyms: behave, bit, dissemble, do, enactment, human action, human activity, move, number, play, pretend, represent, routine, turn

Antonyms: forbear, refrain

See Also: abidance, acquit, act involuntarily, act on, act out, act reflexively, act superior, act up, act up, act upon, action, activity, aggress, alternate, antagonise, antagonize, anticipate, approach, assay, assessment, assume, assumption, attack, attempt, backslap, ballet, bank, be, bear, begin, behave, bluster, break down, bungle, carry, carry on, coact, come close, come forward, come out, come through, come to the fore, commit, communicating, communication, comport, concert dance, condescend, conduct, contend, continue, cope, counter, counteract, court, create, criticise, criticize, dally, dally, dare, dawdle, deal, decree, deign, deport, descend, distribution, disturb, do well, drama, dramatic composition, dramatic work, drive around, edict, effect, egotrip, emote, enact, end up, engage, essay, evade, exert, expression, feign, festinate, fiat, finish, flirt, follow, follow up on, footle, force, foresee, forestall, forfeit, forfeiture, freeze, frivol, get around to, get by, go, go about, go ahead, go along, go on, grapple, group action, guard, had best, ham, hasten, hindrance, hold back, hold off, hugger mugger, hurry, impersonate, inactivity, influence, instrument, interact, interference, interrupt, jest, joke, judgement, judgment, keep, leaning, legal document, legal instrument, legislative act, legitimation, look sharp, loosen up, lord it over, lose it, lower oneself, make, make a point, make as if, make bold, make do, make out, make sure, manage, manifestation, menace, mime, misbehave, misconduct, misdemean, motivating, motivation, nonaccomplishment, nonachievement, offer, official document, opera, oppose, optimise, optimize, order, overact, overplay, pantomime, parody, participate, partner, pay back, perform, perform, performance, permissive waste, perpetrate, persist in, piffle, play, play, play it by ear, plow ahead, portray, presume to, proceed, proclamation, production, promulgation, prosecute, public presentation, puff up, pull, pursue, put on airs, quack, queen it over, race, rage, ramp, rampage, react, reciprocate, re-create, reenact, reflection, reflexion, rejection, relax, repay, repeat, rescript, residence, residency, respond, reward, romance, romanticize, rush, sacrifice, sauce, scene, seek, sentimentalise, sentimentalize, sentimentise, sentimentize, serve, set about, sham, show-stopper, simulate, sneak, solicit, speech act, spoof, stampede, start, statute, stay, step forward, step to the fore, step up, stooge, stooge, stoop, stop, stoppage, stopper, storm, succeed, support, surprise, swagger, swash, swell, take, take care, take over, take part, take time by the forelock, take turns, toy, toy, trifle, try, underact, underplay, use, volunteer, vulgarise, vulgarize, wait, walk around, wanton, waste, wear, wearing, win, wind up, woo, work

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