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

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 The beating was worse, though, because of the principle it was acted out from, in terms of how Fred chose power and punishment over helping this baby, or understanding that Serena didn’t do anything just to be malicious or go behind his back. Jennifer Vineyard, New York Times, "‘The Handmaid’s Tale’: Yvonne Strahovski on the Harrowing Finale and Serena’s Murky Future," 11 July 2018 At the time, a social worker, foster parents and therapist pigeonholed the child, known then as Christina, as a troubled, pubescent girl who acted out for attention. Samantha Young, sacbee, "Should ‘gender-affirming health care’ be on the radar for California’s foster kids?," 2 July 2018 Her dancing, too, was highly expressive in sophisticated choreography that didn't act out the songs so much as manifest their themes in physical form. Mikael Wood, latimes.com, "Pink was as relatable as she was spectacular at the Honda Center," 27 May 2018 Your dismay at your wife’s acting out is also normal and apt. Carolyn Hax, Detroit Free Press, "Wife’s feelings are hurt when kids fight over Dad at bedtime," 27 June 2018 Each semester our new members are given the opportunity to write and act out a skit, in order to roast the active brothers. refinery29.com, "Syracuse Suspends 16 Students For Racist Theta Tau Fraternity Roast," 8 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

14 Oct 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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Comments on act out

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evasion of direct action or statement

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