act

noun
\ ˈakt How to pronounce act (audio) \

Definition of act

 (Entry 1 of 5)

1a : the doing of a thing : deed an act of courage
b law : something done voluntarily
2 : the process of doing something : action caught in the act
3 : the formal product of a legislative body : statute an act of Congress also : a decision or determination of a sovereign, a legislative council, or a court of justice
4 : one of the principal divisions of a theatrical work (such as a play or opera) a play in three acts
5a : one of successive parts or performances (as in a variety show or circus) a magic act
b : the performer or performers in such an act a two-person comedy act
c : a performance or presentation identified with a particular individual or group They took their act on the road.
d : the sum of a person's actions or effects that serve to create an impression or set an example a hard act to follow
6 : a display of affected behavior : pretense put on an act that deceived nobody His friendly concern was just an act.
7 often capitalized : a formal record of something done or transacted
8 : a state of real existence rather than possibility
into the act or in on the act
: into an undertaking or situation as an active participant saw the success they were having and wanted to get in on the act

act

verb
acted; acting; acts

Definition of act (Entry 2 of 5)

intransitive verb

1 : to take action : move think before acting acted favorably on the recommendation
2 : to conduct oneself : behave act like a fool
3a : to perform on the stage began acting at the age of eight
b : to behave as if performing on the stage : pretend seemed angry but was just acting
4 : to perform a specified function : serve trees acting as a windbreak
5 : to produce an effect : work wait for a medicine to act
6 : to give a decision or award adjourned without acting on the bill
7 of a play : to be capable of being performed a play that acts well

transitive verb

1a : to represent or perform by action especially on the stage will act the part of Romeo in tonight's play
b : feign, simulate act indifference
2 : to play the part of as if in a play act the man of the world
3 : to behave in a manner suitable to Act your age.
4 obsolete : actuate, animate

act

abbreviation (1)

Definition of act (Entry 3 of 5)

1 active
2 actor
3 actual

ACT

abbreviation (2)

Definition of ACT (Entry 4 of 5)

1 Action for Children's Television
2 Association of Classroom Teachers
3 Australian Capital Territory

ACT

trademark
\ ˌā-ˌsē-ˈtē\

Definition of ACT (Entry 5 of 5)

used for a standardized achievement test to evaluate suitability for college admission

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Other Words from act

Verb

actability \ ˌak-​tə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce actability (audio) \ noun
actable \ ˈak-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce actable (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for act

Synonyms: Noun

bit, number, routine, shtick (also schtick), turn

Synonyms: Verb

do, impersonate, interpret, perform, play, portray

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Examples of act in a Sentence

Noun

We were grateful for her many acts of kindness. the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Please read act II, scene 1 of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. In the first act, two characters are talking in a restaurant.

Verb

He knew he had to act quickly. The government was slow to act. She acted on behalf of her father, who was not at the meeting. I believe that the killer acted alone. She had acted in self-defense when she killed her attacker. We were acting in the best interests of our children. We must act soon to end this crisis. She learned at an early age how to act properly in social situations. People are always telling me how I should act and what I should say. I noticed that the dog was acting funny this morning.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

To be cavalier about that $3 difference (as some critics are, even among liberals)—a difference that is nearly half of the federal minimum wage—is, frankly, an act of privilege. Nina Turner, Vogue, "Why Universal Health Care, Higher Wages, and Free Public Education Are Crucial Issues for Black Women," 3 May 2019 Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move act, which brought salad bars to schools across the country, was also aiding in preventing and getting rid of food deserts. Jessica Booth, Redbook, "Everything You Need To Know About Food Deserts," 29 Apr. 2019 Poaching is the act of cooking something in hot liquid. Audrey Bruno, SELF, "How to Poach an Egg Like a Pro," 20 Feb. 2019 Nikolaev said the company is fully aware of the delicate balancing act of trying to keep as many players happy at once in a single world. Gordon Mah Ung, PCWorld, "World of Warships dives deep for new players, adding submarines to popular naval combat game," 18 Sep. 2018 How does one deal with linguistic bias on top of an already difficult juggling act? Sonia Rao, chicagotribune.com, "'What's up with that white voice?': The tricky art of linguistic code-switching," 14 July 2018 However, K-pop acts are not typically included in the latter group. Sara Delgado, Teen Vogue, "BTS Said They Will Likely Eventually Break Up to Serve in the South Korean Military," 23 Apr. 2019 Fans hoping to catch West performing his raps were sadly mistaken—this was no Beyoncé or Ariana Grande-style headlining act. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "The Need-to-Know Moments From Kanye West’s “Sunday Service” at Coachella," 21 Apr. 2019 When artists who have been successful supporting players step into the spotlight for the first time, the act carries with it both excitement and trepidation.... Mark Richardson, WSJ, "‘Blood’ by Kelsey Lu Review: Pulsing With the Personal," 16 Apr. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship is designed to act as a mobile base for a U.S. Marine Corps air-ground team. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Navy and Marines Are Deploying a 'Lightning Carrier' to the Pacific," 2 May 2019 But Yakuza 6 continues to act as a strangely solid jumping-on point, too. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Ars Technica’s best games of 2018," 24 Dec. 2018 If you're enamored by the new luggage—or heading to Iceland soon and want your suitcase to match—you'll likely need to act fast. Meredith Carey, Condé Nast Traveler, "Away’s New Northern Lights-Themed Luggage Set Has Us Excited for Winter," 6 Nov. 2018 The seeds in apples contain cyanide, which is toxic, and the core can act as a choking hazard for dogs of all size. Jackie Frere, Woman's Day, "Can Dogs Eat Apples? A Veterinarian Weighs In," 2 Apr. 2019 Disney darling Dove Cameron has been acting for 7 years, playing everything from a villainess to Cher Horowitz. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Dove Cameron's Net Worth is Hefty Thanks to All of Her Work for Disney," 27 Mar. 2019 Aqua octagonal tiles create a soothing tone in the entryway, pistachio velvet sofas add warmth to the living room and a merlot backsplash in the kitchen acts as a pop of interest. Vanessa Lawrence, ELLE Decor, "Reath Design Crafts a Bright, Elegant Home for a Young Family," 22 Mar. 2019 There are two identical systems on Earth, somewhere within HP’s Engineering Department, acting as control groups for the orbiting systems. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "The Saga of a Stranded Space Station Supercomputer," 18 Mar. 2019 Panicked at the possibility of the Hanover line losing the throne now that there was no direct heir, George IV, acting as regent for his father, and Parliament offered George III's sons a monetary incentive to produce a legitimate heir. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "Who Was Queen Victoria's Uncle, King Leopold I of Belgium?," 18 Feb. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'act.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of act

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1590, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 2

History and Etymology for act

Noun

Middle English acte, borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French acte, act, borrowed partly from Latin āctus "driving of cattle, track for cattle, movement, activity, performance, part of a play" (action noun from agere "to drive (cattle), cause to move, do"), partly from Latin āctum (usually in plural) "thing done, public transaction, record," from neuter of āctus, past participle of agere — more at agent

Verb

Middle English acten "to act upon, adjudicate," in part derivative of act act entry 1, in part borrowed from Latin āctus, past participle of agere

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Dictionary Entries near act

acryloyl

ACS

ACT

act

acta

act accordingly

Actaeon

Statistics for act

Last Updated

14 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for act

The first known use of act was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for act

act

noun

English Language Learners Definition of act

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: something that is done
: a law made by a group of legislators
: one of the main divisions of a play or opera

act

verb

English Language Learners Definition of act (Entry 2 of 2)

: to do something : to take action
: to behave in a particular way
: to behave in a way that is not sincere or honest

act

noun
\ ˈakt How to pronounce act (audio) \

Kids Definition of act

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : something that is done : deed an act of bravery
2 : a law made by a governing body
3 : a main division of a play
4 : one of the performances in a show a juggling act
5 : an insincere way of behaving Her crying was just an act.

act

verb
acted; acting

Kids Definition of act (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to do something : move It's important to act quickly in an emergency.
2 : to behave oneself in a certain way He's been acting strangely.
3 : to perform as a character in a play Both stars agreed to act in the movie.
4 : to perform a certain function She'll act as our guide.
5 : to have a result : make something happen : work The medicine acts on the heart.
act up
: to behave badly

act

noun
\ ˈakt How to pronounce act (audio) \

Medical Definition of act

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a motor performance leading to a definite result
2 : a dealing with objects (as by moving, perceiving, or desiring them)

Medical Definition of act (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : to perform an act : behave
2 : to produce an effect wait for a medicine to act

Medical Definition of act (Entry 3 of 3)

active

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act

noun

Legal Definition of act

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : something done by a person in accordance with his or her free will a tortious act — see also actus reus
b : the failure to do something that one has a legal duty to do

called also negative act

2a often capitalized : the formal product of a legislative body : the formally declared will of a legislature the final requirement of which is usually the signature of the proper executive officer : statute an act of Congress in furtherance of the purposes…of that actU.S. Code
b : a decision or determination of a sovereign, a legislative council, or a court of justice — compare bill sense 1
3 often capitalized : a formal record of something done or transacted given as my free act and deed

Legal Definition of act (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to carry into effect a determination of the will : take action
2 : to discharge the duties of a specified office or post : perform a specified function used with a prepositional phrase declaring what officer shall then act as PresidentU.S. Constitution art. II
3 : to give a decision or award (as by vote of a deliberative body or by judicial decree) often used with on adjourned with several important matters still not acted on

Other Words from act

actor \ ˈak-​tər How to pronounce actor (audio) \ noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on act

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with act

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for act

Spanish Central: Translation of act

Nglish: Translation of act for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of act for Arabic Speakers

Comments on act

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