act

noun
\ ˈakt How to pronounce act (audio) \

Definition of act

 (Entry 1 of 5)

1a : the doing of a thing : deed an act of courage
b law : something done voluntarily
2 : the process of doing something : action caught in the act
3 : the formal product of a legislative body : statute an act of Congress also : a decision or determination of a sovereign, a legislative council, or a court of justice
4 : one of the principal divisions of a theatrical work (such as a play or opera) a play in three acts
5a : one of successive parts or performances (as in a variety show or circus) a magic act
b : the performer or performers in such an act a two-person comedy act
c : a performance or presentation identified with a particular individual or group They took their act on the road.
d : the sum of a person's actions or effects that serve to create an impression or set an example a hard act to follow
6 : a display of affected behavior : pretense put on an act that deceived nobody His friendly concern was just an act.
7 often capitalized : a formal record of something done or transacted
8 : a state of real existence rather than possibility
into the act or in on the act
: into an undertaking or situation as an active participant saw the success they were having and wanted to get in on the act

act

verb
acted; acting; acts

Definition of act (Entry 2 of 5)

intransitive verb

1 : to take action : move think before acting acted favorably on the recommendation
2 : to conduct oneself : behave act like a fool
3a : to perform on the stage began acting at the age of eight
b : to behave as if performing on the stage : pretend seemed angry but was just acting
4 : to perform a specified function : serve trees acting as a windbreak
5 : to produce an effect : work wait for a medicine to act
6 : to give a decision or award adjourned without acting on the bill
7 of a play : to be capable of being performed a play that acts well

transitive verb

1a : to represent or perform by action especially on the stage will act the part of Romeo in tonight's play
b : feign, simulate act indifference
2 : to play the part of as if in a play act the man of the world
3 : to behave in a manner suitable to Act your age.
4 obsolete : actuate, animate

Definition of act (Entry 3 of 5)

1 active
2 actor
3 actual

Definition of ACT (Entry 4 of 5)

1 Action for Children's Television
2 Association of Classroom Teachers
3 Australian Capital Territory
\ ˌā-ˌsē-ˈtē How to pronounce ACT (audio) \

Definition of ACT (Entry 5 of 5)

used for a standardized achievement test to evaluate suitability for college admission

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Other Words from act

Verb

actability \ ˌak-​tə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce actability (audio) \ noun
actable \ ˈak-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce actable (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for act

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of act in a Sentence

Noun We were grateful for her many acts of kindness. the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Please read act II, scene 1 of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. In the first act, two characters are talking in a restaurant. Verb He knew he had to act quickly. The government was slow to act. She acted on behalf of her father, who was not at the meeting. I believe that the killer acted alone. She had acted in self-defense when she killed her attacker. We were acting in the best interests of our children. We must act soon to end this crisis. She learned at an early age how to act properly in social situations. People are always telling me how I should act and what I should say. I noticed that the dog was acting funny this morning.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In normal times jetting off to Dubai in July is an act of masochism. The Economist, "Viral vacations What it’s like to go on holiday in Dubai during a pandemic," 1 Aug. 2020 Moving your body is an act of self-care and cultivates self-love; doing more of it cultivates self-love even more. Louise Green, SELF, "A Pep Talk for Anyone Who Wants to Work Out Right Now But Feels Like Fitness Isn’t for Them (or Is Too Self-Conscious to Start)," 30 July 2020 In one sense, then, her book is an act of purification. Elizabeth Winkler, The New Yorker, "How Phillis Wheatley Was Recovered Through History," 30 July 2020 Truth is, vacationing amid shutdowns and quarantines is an act of pure selfishness. Christopher Elliott, USA TODAY, "'This is not the summer for a spontaneous road trip': The case for canceling your vacation," 11 July 2020 Refusing to buy Goya products, however, is an act of protest against the harm done by the administration. Elly Belle, refinery29.com, "Customers Are Boycotting Goya Foods After The Company’s CEO Openly Praised Trump," 10 July 2020 Tsang argued that doing so would be an act of subversion, and therefore, the primary itself would be subversion as well. Haley Victory Smith, Washington Examiner, "Hong Kong top official warns pro-democracy primary election may be illegal," 10 July 2020 This is gonna be a rare opportunity to make a film which is an act of generosity to the world. Tyler Aquilina, EW.com, "YouTube wants your quarantine videos (and more) for Life in a Day 2020," 8 July 2020 Wouldn’t doing otherwise be an act of complacency and dangerous leniency? Isabel Cristo, The New Republic, "Policing Doesn’t Protect Women," 6 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In a national crisis, when people need to act in concert, this is calamitous. Ed Yong, The Atlantic, "How the Pandemic Defeated America," 3 Aug. 2020 The numbers dipped near the end of the week, with only 397 recorded on Saturday, but the increase to almost 700 again overnight pushed the state government to act. Fox News, "Australia declares 'State of Disaster' in Victoria after coronavirus cases spike continues," 3 Aug. 2020 Today, a hearing will be held to discuss the urgent need for a more comprehensive national plan — and Trump's already sagging reputation may fall even lower for failing to act, with the option to blame Democrats no longer on the table. Elly Belle, refinery29.com, "Trump Scrapped Jared Kushner’s COVID Plan Because It Would Help Blue States," 31 July 2020 The implicit trade-off was that a lot of upfront pain would help slow the spread, allowing the state to reopen sooner and more triumphantly than places that failed to act as decisively. Conor Dougherty, New York Times, "California, After Riding a Boom, Braces for Hard Times," 10 July 2020 But residents need to act quickly — the application period ends today, Thursday, July 9, at 4 p.m. at this website. Dallas News, "Residents of Mesquite, Garland, Irving, other cities can ask for up to $ 1,500 for rent or mortgage," 9 July 2020 While Gallego is calling on the federal government to act, Phoenix itself has not committed much money to testing. Jessica Boehm, The Arizona Republic, "Feds downplay Phoenix mayor's COVID-19 testing concerns, but commit to new mass test site in west Phoenix," 9 July 2020 Once something is seen, the next step is not just to say something but to strategize, to reimagine the future and, most importantly, to act. Ainissa G. Ramirez, Scientific American, "Black Images Matter: How Cameras Helped—and Sometimes Harmed—Black People," 8 July 2020 Since different states have adopted different COVID-19 protocols, and individual schools may be inclined to act independently, contingency plans should be drafted primarily in pencil. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, "Even amid the coronavirus crisis, Louisville athletic director Vince Tyra remains calm," 8 July 2020

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

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1590, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 2

History and Etymology for act

Noun

Middle English acte, borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French acte, act, borrowed partly from Latin āctus "driving of cattle, track for cattle, movement, activity, performance, part of a play" (action noun from agere "to drive (cattle), cause to move, do"), partly from Latin āctum (usually in plural) "thing done, public transaction, record," from neuter of āctus, past participle of agere — more at agent

Verb

Middle English acten "to act upon, adjudicate," in part derivative of act act entry 1, in part borrowed from Latin āctus, past participle of agere

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Time Traveler for act

Time Traveler

The first known use of act was in the 14th century

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Statistics for act

Last Updated

5 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Act.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/act. Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for act

act

noun
How to pronounce ACT (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of act

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: something that is done
: a law made by a group of legislators
: one of the main divisions of a play or opera

act

verb

English Language Learners Definition of act (Entry 2 of 2)

: to do something : to take action
: to behave in a particular way
: to behave in a way that is not sincere or honest

act

noun
\ ˈakt How to pronounce act (audio) \

Kids Definition of act

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : something that is done : deed an act of bravery
2 : a law made by a governing body
3 : a main division of a play
4 : one of the performances in a show a juggling act
5 : an insincere way of behaving Her crying was just an act.

act

verb
acted; acting

Kids Definition of act (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to do something : move It's important to act quickly in an emergency.
2 : to behave oneself in a certain way He's been acting strangely.
3 : to perform as a character in a play Both stars agreed to act in the movie.
4 : to perform a certain function She'll act as our guide.
5 : to have a result : make something happen : work The medicine acts on the heart.
act up
: to behave badly

act

noun
\ ˈakt How to pronounce act (audio) \

Medical Definition of act

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a motor performance leading to a definite result
2 : a dealing with objects (as by moving, perceiving, or desiring them)

Medical Definition of act (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : to perform an act : behave
2 : to produce an effect wait for a medicine to act

Medical Definition of act (Entry 3 of 3)

active

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act

noun

Legal Definition of act

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : something done by a person in accordance with his or her free will a tortious act — see also actus reus
b : the failure to do something that one has a legal duty to do

called also negative act

2a often capitalized : the formal product of a legislative body : the formally declared will of a legislature the final requirement of which is usually the signature of the proper executive officer : statute an act of Congress in furtherance of the purposes…of that actU.S. Code
b : a decision or determination of a sovereign, a legislative council, or a court of justice — compare bill sense 1
3 often capitalized : a formal record of something done or transacted given as my free act and deed

Legal Definition of act (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to carry into effect a determination of the will : take action
2 : to discharge the duties of a specified office or post : perform a specified function used with a prepositional phrase declaring what officer shall then act as PresidentU.S. Constitution art. II
3 : to give a decision or award (as by vote of a deliberative body or by judicial decree) often used with on adjourned with several important matters still not acted on

Other Words from act

actor \ ˈak-​tər How to pronounce actor (audio) \ noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on act

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for act

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with act

Spanish Central: Translation of act

Nglish: Translation of act for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of act for Arabic Speakers

Comments on act

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