action

noun

ac·​tion ˈak-shən How to pronounce action (audio)
plural actions
1
a
: 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
6
a(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
7
a
: 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
8
a
: 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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web The site visits are part of a constellation of other efforts, including the city’s Vision Zero Task Force, created in 2021, and an ongoing regional effort by Compass, Southwest Idaho’s community planning association, to put together a regional safety action plan for Ada and Canyon counties. Sarah A. Miller, Idaho Statesman, 21 May 2024 The council action constitutes one half of a two-pronged plan to move workers in San Diego’s Development Services Department, or DSD, out of the City Operations Building at 1222 First Ave. Jennifer Van Grove, San Diego Union-Tribune, 21 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for action 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'action.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 5

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

Dictionary Entries Near action

Cite this Entry

“Action.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/action. Accessed 24 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

action

noun
ac·​tion ˈak-shən How to pronounce action (audio)
1
: a legal proceeding in a court by which one demands one's right or the correction of a wrong
2
: the working of one thing on another so as to produce a change
the action of acids on metals
3
: the process or manner of acting or functioning
also : such an action expressed by a verb
4
a
: a thing done : deed
b
plural : behavior, conduct
5
: combat in war : battle
6
: the plot of a drama or work of fiction

Medical Definition

action

noun
ac·​tion ˈak-shən How to pronounce action (audio)
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 hoursMorris Fishbein
heart action
3
: an act of will
4
actions plural : behavior
aggressive actions

Legal Definition

action

noun
ac·​tion
1
a
: 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 actionsR. H. Bork
3
: a voluntary act of will that manifests itself externally : a mode of conduct
Etymology

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

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