action

noun
ac·​tion | \ ˈak-shən How to pronounce action (audio) \
plural actions

Definition of action

1a : a thing done : deed
b : the accomplishment of a thing usually over a period of time, in stages, or with the possibility of repetition
c 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 mechanism
b : the manner in which a mechanism or instrument operates a drill's twisting action
c : the degree of resistance of a musical instrument to being played Next in consideration is the "action" of the guitar, which from the standpoint of playability, is of utmost importance.— Aaron Shearer especially : the response or resistance of keys in a keyboard-operated instrument to the player's or operator's fingers I went to the piano and played but had great difficulty … because the piano had such stiff action. — Horace Silver
8a : the price movement and trading volume of a commodity, security, or market
b : the process of betting including the offering and acceptance of a bet and determination of a winner
c : financial gain or an opportunity for financial gain a piece of the action
9 : sexual activity
10 : the most vigorous, productive, or exciting activity in a particular field, area, or group wants to be where the action is
11 used as a director's command to start filming part of a movie or television show Lights, camera, action!
12 : spin or rotation given to a ball or puck by throwing or hitting it in a particular way If I am hitting into the wind on the 7th at Pebble Beach, … rather than taking an eight or a nine [iron] and hitting it hard, I'll choose a little eight or even a seven and almost chip the ball, putting as little action on it as possible so it lands softly and doesn't do a lot of spinning.— Jack Nicklaus

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Synonyms for action

Synonyms

act, deed, doing, exploit, feat, thing

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The bill's author, state Sen. Sandra Williams, wrote to the chamber's Republican leader after the Dayton shooting asking for action on her legislation. Author: Julie Carr Smyth, Anchorage Daily News, "Ohio Republicans again faced with calls to enact gun reforms," 7 Aug. 2019 His calls for action could be an uphill battle for the Legislature, which has given little consideration this session to those and other gun-safety measures already introduced by Democrats. John Seewer, Fortune, "Republican Governor Calls for Gun Sale Background Checks After Ohio Shooting," 6 Aug. 2019 His calls for action could be an uphill battle for the Legislature, which has given little consideration this session to those and other gun-safety measures already introduced by Democrats. John Seewer, chicagotribune.com, "Republican governor of Ohio urges gun sale background checks after Dayton shooting," 6 Aug. 2019 While both parties are calling for action, the retreat to familiar political corners was swift. Matthew Daly, BostonGlobe.com, "After shootings, Congress again weighs gun violence response," 5 Aug. 2019 The worst offenders were prosecuted by the Justice Department, but the vast majority were passed off to the Navy for action. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Admiral that oversaw Gallagher prosecution implicated in ‘Fat Leonard’ probe, Navy documents indicate," 5 Aug. 2019 The massacres spawned calls for government action for some measures to try to curb the nation's gun violence epidemic. Emily Tillett, CBS News, "What is the federal government doing on gun safety legislation?," 5 Aug. 2019 With the death toll from Saturday’s massacre at a local Walmart at 22, leaders called not so much for sympathy, but for immediate action. Dallas News, "El Paso, the face of Hispanic and immigrant America, reels but vows to fight back," 4 Aug. 2019 If the international community refuses to exchange platitudes for swift action, the Islamic State’s genocidal campaign against Yazidis will prevail. Nadia Murad, Twin Cities, "Nadia Murad: The genocide against the Yazidi continues," 4 Aug. 2019

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 5

History and Etymology for action

Middle English accioun, borrowed from Anglo-French accion, borrowed from Latin āctiōn-, āctiō "activity, act, legal process," from agere "to drive (cattle), cause to move, do" + -tiōn-, -tiō, noun suffix of verbal action — more at agent

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Statistics for action

Last Updated

9 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for action

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

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More Definitions for action

action

noun

English Language Learners Definition of action

: something that a person or group does
: things done to achieve a particular purpose
: fighting that happens in a war

action

noun
ac·​tion | \ ˈak-shən How to pronounce action (audio) \

Kids Definition of action

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

action

noun
ac·​tion | \ ˈak-shən How to pronounce action (audio) \

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
4 actions plural : behavior aggressive actions

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action

noun
ac·​tion

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

History and Etymology for action

Latin actio legal proceeding, from agere to do, carry out, initiate legal proceedings

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More from Merriam-Webster on action

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with action

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for action

Spanish Central: Translation of action

Nglish: Translation of action for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of action for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about action

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