Definition of action
1a : a thing done : deedb : the accomplishment of a thing usually over a period of time, in stages, or with the possibility of repetitionc actions plural : behavior, conduct <unscrupulous actions>d : initiative, enterprise <a man of action>
2 : an act of will <an emergency requiring action>
3 : the bringing about of an alteration by force or through a natural agency <the action of water on rocks>
4 : the manner or method of performing:a : an actor's or speaker's deportment or expression by means of attitude, voice, and gesture <An actor's words and actions should agree.>b : the style of movement of the feet and legs (as of a horse)c : a function of the body or one of its parts
5 : the initiating of a proceeding in a court of justice by which one demands or enforces one's right; also : the proceeding itself
6a (1) : an engagement between troops or ships (2) : combat in war <gallantry in action>b (1) : an event or series of events forming a literary composition <Most of the play's action takes place in a courtroom.> (2) : the unfolding of the events of a drama or work of fiction : plot <As the action unfolds, we learn more about the hero's family.> (3) : the movement of incidents in a plot <a movie that is two hours of nonstop action>c : the combination of circumstances that constitute the subject matter of a painting or sculpture
7a : an operating mechanismb : the manner in which a mechanism or instrument operates <a drill's twisting action>
8a : the price movement and trading volume of a commodity, security, or marketb : the process of betting including the offering and acceptance of a bet and determination of a winnerc : financial gain or an opportunity for financial gain <a piece of the action>
Examples of action in a sentence
He was critical of the government's actions before the war.
a military action against another country
She tried to explain her actions.
I accept full responsibility for my actions.
The situation demanded immediate action.
The problem may require military action.
The school took disciplinary action against the drunken students.
They decided that no further action was necessary.
Origin and Etymology of action
Middle English accioun, from Anglo-French accion, from Latin action-, actio, from agere to do — more at agent
First Known Use: 14th century
ACTION Defined for Kids
Definition of action for Students
1 : the process by which something produces a change in another thing <the action of acid on metal>
2 : the doing of something <Action is needed on this problem.>
3 : something done <The mayor's first action was to call a meeting.>
4 : the way something runs or works <the toy car's spinning action>
5 : combat in war
Medical Definition of action
1: the process of exerting a force or bringing about an effect that results from the inherent capacity of an agent <protein synthesis is an expression of gene action> <insecticidal action>
2: a function or the performance of a function of the body (as defecation) or of one of its parts <the normal baby has three or four actions of the bowel in 24 hours—Morris Fishbein> <heart action>
3: an act of will
4actions plural : behavior <aggressive actions>
Legal Definition of action
1a : a judicial proceeding for the enforcement or protection of a right, the redress or prevention of a wrong, or the punishment of a public offense — compare special proceeding at proceeding b : the right to bring or maintain such a legal or judicial proceeding
2 : an act or decision by an executive or legislative body of a government (as an administrative agency) or of an organization (as a Board of Directors) <the power of courts to invalidate statutes and executive actions — R. H. Bork>
3 : a voluntary act of will that manifests itself externally : a mode of conduct
Origin and Etymology of action
Latin actio legal proceeding, from agere to do, carry out, initiate legal proceedings
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