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The entry for "act" is displayed below.
WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2016
-act-, root. WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2016
act /ækt/USA pronunciation
- -act- comes from Latin, where it has the meaning "to do, move''. It is related to the root -ag-. This meaning is found in such words as: act, action, exact, inexact, transact.
a display of insincere behavior assumed for effect; pretense[usually singular]Her apology was all an act.
- anything done or to be done;
deed:an act of mercy.
- the process of doing: caught in the act.
- Government[sometimes: Act] a formal decision, law, or the like; a decree or edict:an act of Congress.
- Show Businessone of the main divisions of a play or opera: a drama in three acts.
- a short performance by one or more entertainers, usually part of a variety show, circus, etc.:an acrobatic act.
- [no object] to do something;
carry out an action.
- to reach or issue a decision on some matter[no object; (~ + on + object)]Congress failed to act (on the tax bill).
- [no obj] to operate or function in a particular way:acted as manager.
- to produce an effect: The medicine failed to act.
- to conduct oneself in a particular fashion: [no object]acted foolishly.[~ + object]to act one's age.
- [no obj] to pretend; feign:was just acting and wasn't really sorry.
- Show Businessto perform as an actor: [no object]has acted on Broadway.[~ + object]to act Macbeth.
act on or upon, [~ + on/upon + object]
- to act in accordance with; follow:will act on (upon) your wishes immediately.
- to have an effect on;
affect:The aspirin acted on the pain.
- [ ~ + out + obj] to show or express by gestures or actions:He acted out his frustrations by throwing things.
act up, [no object]
- to perform: [ ~ + out + obj]:The students acted out the roles in the play.[ ~ + obj + out]:to act the roles out.
- to fail to function properly:The car's transmission is acting up.
- to behave willfully:The tired, cranky child acted up during the wedding.
- (of a recurring ailment) to become troublesome:His rheumatism is acting up.
Idioms in the act of, in the process of:was caught in the act of climbing out the window.See -act-.
- Idiomsclean up one's act, to begin to behave in a more socially acceptable way.
- Idiomsget or have one's act together, to behave or function responsibly and efficiently.
- anything done, being done, or to be done;
performance:a heroic act.
- the process of doing:caught in the act.
- Governmenta formal decision, law, or the like, by a legislature, ruler, court, or other authority; decree or edict;
judgment, resolve, or award:an act of Congress.
- an instrument or document stating something done or transacted.
- Show Businessone of the main divisions of a play or opera:the second act ofHamlet.
- Show Businessa short performance by one or more entertainers, usually part of a variety show or radio or television program.
- Show Businessthe personnel of such a group:The act broke up after 30 years.
- false show; pretense;
feint:The politician's pious remarks were all an act.
- activity in process;
- the principle or power of operation.
- form as determining essence.
clean up one's act, [Informal.]to begin adhering to more acceptable practices, rules of behavior, etc.:The factory must clean up its act and treat its employees better.
get or have one's act together, [Informal.]to organize one's time, job, resources, etc., so as to function efficiently:The new administration is still getting its act together.
- a state of realization, as opposed to potentiality.
- to do something; exert energy or force;
be employed or operative:He acted promptly in the emergency.
- to reach, make, or issue a decision on some matter:I am required to act before noon tomorrow.
- to operate or function in a particular way; perform specific duties or functions:to act as manager.
- to produce an effect;
perform a function:The medicine failed to act.
- to behave or conduct oneself in a particular fashion:to act well under all conditions.
- to pretend; feign:Act interested even if you're bored.
- Show Businessto perform as an actor:He acted in three plays by Molière.
- Show Businessto be capable of being performed:His plays don't act well.
- to serve or substitute (usually fol. by for):In my absence the assistant manager will act for me.
- Show Businessto represent (a fictitious or historical character) with one's person:to act Macbeth.
- to feign; counterfeit:to act outraged virtue.
- to behave as:He acted the fool.
- [Obs.]to actuate.
- act funny, to display eccentric or suspicious behavior.
act on or upon:
- to act in accordance with; follow:He acted on my advice.
act one's age, to behave in a manner appropriate to one's maturity:We children enjoyed our uncle because he didn't always act his age.
- to have an effect on;
affect:The stirring music acted on the emotions of the audience.
- to demonstrate or illustrate by pantomime or by words and gestures:The party guests acted out stories for one another.
- [Psychol.]to give overt expression to (repressed emotions or impulses) without insightful understanding:The patients acted out early traumas by getting angry with the analyst.
- to fail to function properly; malfunction:The vacuum cleaner is acting up again.
- to behave willfully:The children always act up in school the day before a holiday.
- to become painful or troublesome, esp. after a period of improvement or remission:My arthritis is acting up again this morning.
1 . feat, exploit;
- Latin āctus a doing (āg- + -tus suffix of verb, verbal action)
- Latin ācta, plural of āctum something done, noun, nominal use of past participle of agere to do (āg- past participle stem + -tum neuter past participle suffix); and directly
- Middle French)
- Middle English act(e) ( 1350–1400
accomplishment. See action. 4 . record. 6 . turn, routine. 11 –15. perform, function, work. 17, 18 . play.
American College Test.
EducationAssociation of Classroom Teachers.
Australian Capital Territory.
Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::
act /ækt/ n
- something done or performed; a deed
- the performance of some physical or mental process; action
- (capital when part of a name) the formally codified result of deliberation by a legislative body; a law, edict, decree, statute, etc
- (often plural) a formal written record of transactions, proceedings, etc, as of a society, committee, or legislative body
- a major division of a dramatic work
- a short performance of skill, a comic sketch, dance, etc, esp one that is part of a programme of light entertainment
- those giving such a performance
- an assumed attitude or pose, esp one intended to impress
See also act on
- (intransitive) to do something; carry out an action
- (intransitive) to function in a specified way; operate; react: his mind acted quickly
- to perform (a part or role) in a play, etc
- (transitive) to present (a play, etc) on stage
- (intr; usually followed by for or as) to be a substitute (for); function in place (of)
- (intransitive) followed by as: to serve the function or purpose (of)
- (intransitive) to conduct oneself or behave (as if one were): she usually acts like a lady
- (intransitive) to behave in an unnatural or affected way
- (copula) to pose as; play the part of: to act the fool
- (copula) to behave in a manner appropriate to (esp in the phrase act one's age)
- get in on the act ⇒ informal to become involved in a profitable undertaking or advantageous situation in order to share in the benefits
- get one's act together ⇒ informal to become organized or prepared
, act upEtymology: 14th Century: from Latin actus a doing, performance, and actum a thing done, from the past participle of agere to doˈactable adj ˌactaˈbility n
ACT abbreviation for
- Australian Capital Territory
- (formerly in Britain) advance corporation tax
ACT /ækt/ n acronym for
- (in New Zealand) Association of Consumers and Taxpayers: a small political party of the right