act out

verb
Updated on: 14 Nov 2017

Definition of act 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

  1. 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 of act out from the Web

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.

First Known Use of act out

circa 1616


Medical Dictionary

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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