act out

verb

Definition of act out 

transitive verb

1a : 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)

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Synonyms for act out

Synonyms

act up, carry on, misbehave

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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

The 2018 MTV Video Music Awards are almost here — meaning fans can expect an array of shocking performances and stars acting out. Zoe Szathmary, Fox News, "MTV VMAs most shocking moments, from Britney Spears and Madonna's kiss to Kanye West's mic grab," 20 Aug. 2018 Haddish hadn’t learned to read beyond a first-grade level and often acted out to distract from that deficiency—by sending her to a comedy camp at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles. Rawiya Kameir, Vogue, "How Tiffany Haddish Became Comedy’s New Queen," 14 Aug. 2018 Parkinson's often comes with sleep disturbances, and acting out dreams can be an early warning sign. Sarah Jacoby, SELF, "The Weird Dream Symptom That Made Alan Alda Suspect He Had Parkinson’s Disease," 31 July 2018 Or maybe those people in the suburbs were just acting out of self-interest. Nick Stockton, WIRED, "Why Traffic-Choked Nashville Said 'No Thanks' to Public Transit," 9 May 2018 Okay this upset in New York last night was a liberal party faithful acting out against the Democratic leadership for their ineffectiveness. Fox News, "Ingraham: Democrats racing to the left," 28 June 2018 Such attacks have been increasingly used by terrorists, but in other instances, the driver acted out of mental illness or simple rage. Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY, "What we know about Toronto van attack suspect Alek Minassian," 24 Apr. 2018 Brexit was instead supported by British national Arron Banks, who, acting out of apparent generosity, donated the largest political expenditure in U.K. history to support the yes vote. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Glenn Greenwald Tells Russians Liberals Are Blaming Them As Excuse for Clinton," 9 July 2018 The lawsuit says poor conditions and verbal abuse by staff often escalated into physical confrontations, as the frustrated children acted out. Michael Biesecker, Time, "Young Immigrants Held in a Virginia Detention Center Say They Were Abused By Guards," 21 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'act out.' 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 out

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

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Statistics for act out

Last Updated

9 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for act out

The first known use of act out was circa 1616

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More Definitions for act out

act out

transitive verb
\(ˈ)akt-ˈau̇t \

Medical Definition of act out 

: 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)

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More from Merriam-Webster on act out

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with act out

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for act out

Nglish: Translation of act out for Spanish Speakers

Comments on act out

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