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act definition

Overview

This page has 31 definitions of act with English translations in 5 languages. Act is a noun, verb and conjunction. Examples of how to use act in a sentence are shown. Also define these 37 related words and terms: deed, actuality, theology, work, legislative body, statute, drama, theatrical, performance, performer, behaviour, thesis, candidate, degree, proficiency, student, deceive, perform, behave, certain, indefinite, copular verb, on, upon, effect, role, feign, mathematics, group, map, homomorphism, automorphism, acht, act, action, enact, and decree.

See also: ACT, act., Act., A.C.T., and A. C. T.

English act definition

Etymology

From Middle English acte, from Old French acte, from Latin ācta (register of events), plural of āctum (decree, law), from agō (put in motion). Compare German Akte (file). Partially displaced deed, from Old English dǣd (act, deed).

Pronunciation

Noun

act (countable and uncountable, plural acts)

  1. (countable) Something done, a deed.
    an act of goodwill
    • 1798, William Wordsworth, Lines
      That best portion of a good man's life, / His little, nameless, unremembered acts / Of kindness and of love.
  2. (obsolete, uncountable) Actuality.
    • 1594, Richard Hooker, Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie
      The seeds of plants are not at first in act, but in possibility, what they afterward grow to be.
  3. (theology) Something done once and for all, as distinguished from a work.
  4. (countable) A product of a legislative body, a statute.
    • 2012 March 1, William E. Carter, Merri Sue Carter, “The British Longitude Act Reconsidered”, in American Scientist[1], volume 100, number 2, page 87:
      But was it responsible governance to pass the Longitude Act without other efforts to protect British seamen? Or might it have been subterfuge—a disingenuous attempt to shift attention away from the realities of their life at sea.
  5. The process of doing something.
    He was caught in the act of stealing.
  6. (countable) A formal or official record of something done.
  7. (countable, drama) A division of a theatrical performance.
    • 1905, Baroness Emmuska Orczy, chapter 2, in The Lisson Grove Mystery[2]:
      “H'm !” he said, “so, so—it is a tragedy in a prologue and three acts. I am going down this afternoon to see the curtain fall for the third time on what [...] will prove a good burlesque ; but it all began dramatically enough. It was last Saturday […] that two boys, playing in the little spinney just outside Wembley Park Station, came across three large parcels done up in American cloth. […]”
    The pivotal moment in the play was in the first scene of the second act.
  8. (countable) A performer or performers in a show.
    Which act did you prefer? The soloist or the band?
  9. (countable) Any organized activity.
    • 1934, Babette Hughes, One egg: a farce in one act, page 46:
      The minute you let it be known you're planning a sales campaign everybody wants to get into the act.
  10. (countable) A display of behaviour.
    • Behaviour definition
      Alternative spelling of behavior
  11. A thesis maintained in public, in some English universities, by a candidate for a degree, or to show the proficiency of a student.
  12. (countable) A display of behaviour meant to deceive.
    to put on an act

Synonyms

Meronyms

Holonyms

Derived terms

Related terms

Translations

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Dictionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Verb

act (third-person singular simple present acts, present participle acting, simple past and past participle acted)

  1. (intransitive) To do something.
    If you don't act soon, you will be in trouble.
  2. (obsolete, transitive) To do (something); to perform.
    • 1650, Jeremy Taylor, The Rule and Exercises of Holy Living, Purity of Intention
      that we act our temporal affairs with a desire no greater than our necessity
    • a. 1677, Isaac Barrow, Of Industry in General (sermon)
      Industry doth beget by producing good habits, and facility of acting things expedient for us to do.
    • 1782, William Cowper, Expostulation
      Uplifted hands that at convenient times / Could act extortion and the worst of crimes.
  3. (intransitive) To perform a theatrical role.
    I started acting at the age of eleven in my local theatre.
  4. (intransitive) Of a play: to be acted out (well or badly).
    • 2011, Effiong Johnson, Play Production Processes, page 180:
      But whatever types he assumes, the need to have a good play which acts delightfully well before the audience, and to their delectation, is the dominant thrust. If the play acts well, the director gets the credits.
  5. (intransitive) To behave in a certain manner for an indefinite length of time.
    A dog which acts aggressively is likely to bite.
    I believe that Bill's stuck-up because of the way that he acts.
    He's acting strangely - I think there's something wrong with him.
    • Behave definition
      To conduct (oneself) well, or in a given way. (1 of 4 behave definitions)
  6. (copulative) To convey an appearance of being.
    He acted unconcerned so the others wouldn't worry.
  7. (intransitive) To do something that causes a change binding on the doer.
    act on behalf of John
  8. (intransitive, construed with on or upon) To have an effect (on).
    High-pressure oxygen acts on the central nervous system and may cause convulsions or death.
    Gravitational force acts on heavy bodies.
  9. (transitive) To play (a role).
    He's been acting Shakespearean leads since he was twelve.
  10. (transitive) To feign.
    He acted the angry parent, but was secretly amused.
  11. (mathematics, intransitive, construed with on or upon, of a group) To map via a homomorphism to a group of automorphisms (of).
    This group acts on the circle, so it can't be left-orderable!
  12. (obsolete, transitive) To move to action; to actuate; to animate.

Derived terms

Related terms

Translations

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Dictionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Anagrams


Old Irish act definition

Conjunction

act

  1. Alternative spelling of acht (but)
    • Acht definition
      eight

Romanian act definition

Etymology

Borrowed from French acte, from Latin actus.

Noun

act n (plural acte)

  1. act, deed, action

Related terms

See also

Further reading


Scots act definition

Pronunciation

Noun

act (plural acts)

  1. an act

Verb

act (third-person singular present acts, present participle actin, past actit, past participle actit)

  1. act
  2. enact
  3. decree

References


Welsh act definition

Etymology

From English act.

Pronunciation

Noun

act f (plural actau)

  1. act

Derived terms

  • Actau'r Apostolion (Acts of the Apostles)
  • actio (to act)
  • actor (actor)
  • actores (actress)

Mutation

Welsh mutation
radical soft nasal h-prothesis
act unchanged unchanged hact
Note: Some of these forms may be hypothetical. Not every
possible mutated form of every word actually occurs.

Further reading

  • act”, in R. J. Thomas, G. A. Bevan, P. J. Donovan, A. Hawke et al., editors, Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru Online (in Welsh), University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh & Celtic Studies, 1950–present