act out

verb

acted out; acting out; acts out

transitive verb

1
a
: to represent in action
children act out what they read
b
: to translate into action
unwilling to act out their beliefs
2
: to express (something, such as an impulse or a fantasy) directly in overt behavior without modification to comply with social norms

intransitive verb

: to behave badly or in a socially unacceptable often self-defeating manner especially as a means of venting painful emotions (such as fear or frustration)

Examples of act out in a Sentence

because his parents spent so much time with his chronically ill sister, the boy resorted to acting out in order to get attention
Recent Examples on the Web Educators receive training on how to respond to students who have endured trauma and may be acting out as a result, with responses that can lead to alternatives to suspensions. Meredith Kolodner, USA TODAY, 1 Apr. 2024 In other words, acting out might intensify the issue that Karens are so worried about. Chloe Berger, Fortune, 28 Mar. 2024 Shortly after the 21-year-old pop star posted a TikTok acting out the Oscar-winning actress’ viral ad — which has been playing before every showing at the movie chain’s locations since 2021 — the Moulin Rouge star herself tipped her cap to Rodrigo on Instagram Stories Wednesday (March 27). Hannah Dailey, Billboard, 28 Mar. 2024 Paw Patrol fans will love acting out their favorite scenes from the movie with this $15 playmat, which comes with two toy cars and is currently 66% off; preschoolers can also engage in creative pretend play with a Melissa & Doug wooden cake-making playset that’s more than 50% off. Dorian Smith-Garcia, Parents, 20 Mar. 2024 Marcus acted out the opponents, partially as an excuse to scare his younger siblings, but also as a way to hone their skills. Thuc Nhi Nguyen, Los Angeles Times, 22 Mar. 2024 In Portland’s downtown, streets already barren as a result of the pandemic felt threatening, with people using drugs openly or acting out in crisis. Mike Baker, New York Times, 2 Mar. 2024 On Friday, the Oscar winner, 55, was captured kissing costar Melanie Liburd while acting out a wedding on a sunny day. Brenton Blanchet, Peoplemag, 25 Feb. 2024 Most recently, Smith was captured kissing costar Melanie Liburd while acting out a wedding last Friday. Tommy McArdle, Peoplemag, 27 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'act out.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1616, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of act out was circa 1616

Dictionary Entries Near act out

Cite this Entry

“Act out.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/act%20out. Accessed 19 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

act out

verb
1
: to represent in action
children act out what they read
2
: to behave badly especially as a way of letting out painful emotions

Medical Definition

act out

transitive verb
: to express (as an impulse or a fantasy) directly in overt behavior without modification to comply with social norms
act out an adolescent fantasy

intransitive verb

: to behave badly or in a socially unacceptable often self-defeating manner especially as a means of venting painful emotions (as fear or frustration)

More from Merriam-Webster on act out

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