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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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 Today’s protest will act out this political divide — only four days before the start of early voting. Gilbert Garcia, ExpressNews.com, "Garcia: Union protest targets Cuellar for vote against PRO Act," 14 Feb. 2020 The agency acted out of concern for poorer countries that might not be equipped to respond, said Galea. Anchorage Daily News, "China death toll reaches 259; World Health Organization warns countries to prepare," 1 Feb. 2020 My children have had so much fun with them over the years, from playing with their very first Duplos to building imagined lands for their minifigures and acting out stories, to building the most complicated sets. Amy Schwabe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "What to do when there's nothing to do: Here are ideas for bored kids in the Milwaukee area.," 10 July 2019 That's because Carson, in an attempt to demonstrate the charges against the president, used Lego bricks to give detailed breakdowns of both articles of impeachment by having the toys act out what Trump is accused of doing. Justin L. Mack, Indianapolis Star, "Why Indiana Rep. Andre Carson used Legos to explain Trump's impeachment," 19 Dec. 2019 They were tasked with various chores around the home, and might act out when the humans didn't cater to their little gnome needs. Kelly Corbett, House Beautiful, "Christmas Gnomes Are Everywhere and Thus I Am Panicked," 17 Dec. 2019 The enticing web was designed in part for a performance in which Kim acts out her search for identity and purpose. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, "In the galleries: At cultural center, art that’s tethered to South Korea," 20 Sep. 2019 In the first few days after separation, the children are expected to protest by crying and acting out in ways that reflect a desperate effort to secure the return of their parents. Melissa Healy, latimes.com, "The long-lasting health effects of separating children from their parents at the U.S. border," 20 June 2018 Other parts are acted out in an ever-running play whose plot turns on the national paralysis over the Second Amendment. Dan Barry, New York Times, "Gunfire Erupts at a School. Leaders Offer Prayers. Children Are Buried. Repeat.," 15 Feb. 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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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

18 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Act out.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/act%20out. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for act out

\ (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)

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More from Merriam-Webster on act out

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for act out

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with act out

Nglish: Translation of act out for Spanish Speakers

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