act out

verb
acted out; acting out; acts out

Definition of act out

transitive verb

1a : to represent in action children act out what they read
b : to translate into action unwilling to act out their beliefs
2 : to express (something, such as an impulse or a fantasy) directly in overt behavior without modification to comply with social norms

intransitive verb

: to behave badly or in a socially unacceptable often self-defeating manner especially as a means of venting painful emotions (such as fear or frustration)

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Examples of act out in a Sentence

because his parents spent so much time with his chronically ill sister, the boy resorted to acting out in order to get attention
Recent Examples on the Web Performers ranging from kindergartners to university students are acting out themes of patriotism, traditional Chinese culture and core socialist values during three weeks of performances in the capital. Anna Fifield, Washington Post, "China thinks ‘patriotic education’ built a loyal generation. But in Hong Kong? Not so fast.," 29 Nov. 2019 At times, protesters have appeared to be acting out moments from the shows. Vivienne Chow, Quartz, "The magical world of Japanese anime has become the reality of Hong Kong protesters," 14 Nov. 2019 That’s her father, an Iraq War veteran suffering from PTSD whose acting out often earns him a night in stir. Glenn Kenny, New York Times, "‘Mickey and the Bear’ Review: Trapped in a Small Town, With Dad," 12 Nov. 2019 Besides letting Johnson act out his own Churchillian fantasy and pander to the patriotic fever-dreams of Brexiteers, the prime minister’s pantomime pivot into military general serves another purpose. Samuel Earle, The New Republic, "The White Cliffs of Brexit," 22 Oct. 2019 Hailey took control of the camera duties, while Justin acted out his attempts at correctly pointing to a banana. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Taylor Swift Fans Are Upset With Hailey and Justin Bieber for an Instagram Story Video," 7 Oct. 2019 But Wilder never went to the Ritz, where Garland was staying, to force the actress into her clothes — a scene Buckley and Zellweger act out in the film. Emily Zemler, Los Angeles Times, "The true story behind ‘Judy’ from the woman who worked with Judy Garland," 4 Oct. 2019 Meralyn Kirkland says the child, Kaia Rolle, was acting out at Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy, a charter school in Orlando, as a result of lack of sleep. Fox News, "Florida girl, 6, arrested for battery by school resource officer for temper tantrum: report," 23 Sep. 2019 Kirkland said Kaia was acting out in class, a side effect due to a lack of sleep because of a medical condition. Htv National Desk, Houston Chronicle, "Officer under scrutiny after grandmother says 6-year-old arrested, handcuffed," 23 Sep. 2019

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

circa 1616, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

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Time Traveler for act out

Time Traveler

The first known use of act out was circa 1616

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Statistics for act out

Last Updated

9 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Act out.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/acts%20out. Accessed 13 December 2019.

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More Definitions for act out

\ (ˈ)akt-ˈau̇t How to pronounce act out (audio) \

Medical Definition of act out

: to express (as an impulse or a fantasy) directly in overt behavior without modification to comply with social norms act out an adolescent fantasy

intransitive verb

: to behave badly or in a socially unacceptable often self-defeating manner especially as a means of venting painful emotions (as fear or frustration)

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More from Merriam-Webster on act out

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for act out

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with act out

Nglish: Translation of act out for Spanish Speakers

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