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 showLights, 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

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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 He and others delight in seeing their actions reflected in the SPLC’s nationwide map recording acts of hate and in the media. ProPublica, "They Are Racist; Some of Them Have Guns. Inside the White Supremacist Group Hiding in Plain Sight.," 13 Nov. 2019 His actions throughout his life were a testament of his altruistic side. courant.com, "Arthur F. Hourihan," 11 Nov. 2019 Mulvaney's legal filing, Pittard added, makes clear his action is aimed at the House, not the president. Anchorage Daily News, "Mulvaney’s move to join impeachment testimony lawsuit rankles Bolton allies," 11 Nov. 2019 Hubert, who was awarded the highest French order of merit three years ago for his brave actions that day, served in the British Royal Artillery regiment during the war. Fox News, "D-Day hero surprised by friends, family with party on 95th birthday," 11 Nov. 2019 Democrats want to keep the focus on Trump and his actions, rather than on the Bidens. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "Republicans seethe while suggesting impeachment-inquiry witnesses," 9 Nov. 2019 The trio later killed 15 other fishermen on the boat to cover up their action. Time, "South Korea Deports North Korean Fishermen Who Attempted to Defect After Killing Their Fellow Crew Members," 9 Nov. 2019 Yes, each individual is responsible for his own actions. Megan Schrader, The Denver Post, "Schrader: Report on Catholic clergy sexual abuse leaves a big question unanswered," 8 Nov. 2019 Get some action on this game or others, place a bet with BetMGM today. Joe Williams, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Illinois at Michigan State odds: Illini to challenge Spartans on road," 7 Nov. 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

15 Nov 2019

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
How to pronounce action (audio)

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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