act out

verb
acted out; acting out; acts out

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

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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 Federal Aviation Administration announced in January that it was done issuing warnings to unruly airline passengers who refuse to wear masks or act out in other ways and would start slapping them with stiff fines. Jayme Deerwester, USA TODAY, "FAA extends zero-tolerance policy on unruly passengers, proposes stiff fines for JetBlue passengers," 17 Mar. 2021 Parents of kids who act out may turn to electronic devices to pacify their children’s outbursts. Paul L. Morgan, The Conversation, "Some kindergartners are more likely to be heavy users of online tech later, according to new research," 12 Jan. 2021 In class, Thibodeau directs her hearing students to act out a story in silence, using only their faces. Malia Wollan, New York Times, "How to Communicate Through Facial Expressions," 2 Mar. 2021 Men act out their sadness through alcohol use, addiction, different types of aggressive behavior. Elaine Pofeldt, Forbes, "He Built A Million-Dollar, One-Man Business Helping Couples Save Troubled Marriages. Now He’s Guiding Them Through COVID-19," 28 Feb. 2021 Not everyone needs to make sharp knives and act out their blacksmith fantasies to survive. Tim Macwelch, Outdoor Life, "10 Uses for Animal Fat in the Wild," 20 Jan. 2021 Does this mean that law enforcement is going to take such a lax approach when people like this act out? Kristen Rogers, CNN, "How people of color can cope with Capitol riot hypocrisy," 16 Jan. 2021 One is that, under specific conditions, peacefully minded protesters may indeed act out — for instance, when a barricade is broken by others, when the police strike down someone nearby. New York Times, "Making Sense of the ‘Mob’ Mentality," 12 Jan. 2021 Her brother, Aziz, is a natural storyteller who uses his imagination to create and act out stories, complete with characters like kings, queens and various animals. Alaa Elassar, CNN, "Sesame Workshop debuts its first ever Rohingya Muppets for refugee children," 20 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for act out

Time Traveler

The first known use of act out was circa 1616

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Statistics for act out

Last Updated

19 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Act out.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/act%20out. Accessed 20 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for act out

act out

transitive verb
\ (ˈ)akt-ˈau̇t How to pronounce act out (audio) \

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)

More from Merriam-Webster on act out

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for act out

Nglish: Translation of act out for Spanish Speakers

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