Acting out



anything done, being done, or to be done; deed; performance:
a heroic act.
the process of doing:
caught in the act.
a formal decision, law, or the like, by a legislature, ruler, court, or other authority; decree or edict; statute; judgment, resolve, or award:
an act of Congress.
an instrument or document stating something done or transacted.
one of the main divisions of a play or opera: the second act of Hamlet.
a short performance by one or more entertainers, usually part of a variety show or radio or television program.
the personnel of such a group:
The act broke up after 30 years.
false show; pretense; feint:
The politician’s pious remarks were all an act.
Philosophy.

activity in process; operation.
the principle or power of operation.
form as determining essence.
a state of realization, as opposed to potentiality.

to do something; exert energy or force; be employed or operative:
He acted promptly in the emergency.
to reach, make, or issue a decision on some matter:
I am required to act before noon tomorrow.
to operate or function in a particular way; perform specific duties or functions:
to act as manager.
to produce an effect; perform a function:
The medicine failed to act.
to behave or conduct oneself in a particular fashion:
to act well under all conditions.
to pretend; feign:
Act interested even if you’re bored.
to perform as an :
He acted in three plays by Molière.
to be capable of being performed:
His plays don’t act well.
to serve or substitute (usually followed by for):
In my absence the assistant manager will act for me.
to represent (a fictitious or historical character) with one’s person:
to act Macbeth.
to feign; counterfeit:
to act outraged virtue.
to behave as:
He acted the fool.
Obsolete. to .
act on/upon,

to act in accordance with; follow:
He acted on my advice.
to have an effect on; affect:
The stirring music acted on the emotions of the audience.

act out,

to demonstrate or illustrate by pantomime or by words and gestures:
The party guests acted out stories for one another.
Psychology. to give overt expression to (repressed emotions or impulses) without insightful understanding:
The patients acted out early traumas by getting angry with the analyst.

act up,

to fail to function properly; malfunction:
The vacuum cleaner is acting up again.
to behave willfully:
The children always act up in school the day before a holiday.
to become painful or troublesome, especially after a period of improvement or remission:
My arthritis is acting up again this morning.

get/have one’s act together, Informal. to organize one’s time, job, resources, etc., so as to function efficiently:
The new administration is still getting its act together.
act funny, to display eccentric or suspicious behavior.
act one’s age, to behave in a manner appropriate to one’s maturity:
We children enjoyed our uncle because he didn’t always act his age.
clean up one’s act, Informal. to begin adhering to more acceptable practices, rules of behavior, etc.:
The factory must clean up its act and treat its employees better.
Contemporary Examples

The writer describes one incident where Schrader, while acting out a scene, “body-slammed” Lindsay to the ground.
Porn Star James Deen on His ‘Canyons’ Experience With Lindsay Lohan Marlow Stern January 16, 2013

The company, Moneybookers, suggested that it was acting out of an abundance of caution.
Pentagon on WikiLeaks Alert Philip Shenon October 15, 2010

We amplified the scene with Agamemnon to let people understand that Achilles is not acting out of pettiness.
Denis O’Hare Talks About One-Man Show “An Iliad” Janice Kaplan March 24, 2012

He knew Sean had been acting out, but he never expected anything like this.
Should Juvenile Criminals Be Sentenced Like Adults? Clark Merrefield November 25, 2012

The concert tour, the public antics, the acting out—it all became too much.
Nicki Minaj’s Ass-tastic ‘Anaconda’ Video and the Curse of the Butt Career Kevin Fallon August 20, 2014

Historical Examples

Sometimes the women are enigmatical: one does not know if they are acting out of kindness or from duplicity.
The Reminiscences of an Irish Land Agent S.M. Hussey

Like others, they did their part in acting out one of its principles.
The Hour and the Man Harriet Martineau

Shall we say that He was acting out His own precept, Give not that which is holy to dogs?
The Expositor’s Bible: The Gospel of St John, Vol. II Marcus Dods

The acting out of that strong impulse had exhausted every energy.
Felix Holt, The Radical George Eliot

In these ways he was acting out his belief that the President should be simple in dress and manner.
Stories of Later American History Wilbur F. Gordy

noun
something done or performed; a deed
the performance of some physical or mental process; action
(capital when part of a name) the formally codified result of deliberation by a legislative body; a law, edict, decree, statute, etc
(often pl) a formal written record of transactions, proceedings, etc, as of a society, committee, or legislative body
a major division of a dramatic work

a short performance of skill, a comic sketch, dance, etc, esp one that is part of a programme of light entertainment
those giving such a performance

an assumed attitude or pose, esp one intended to impress
(philosophy) an occurrence effected by the volition of a human agent, usually opposed at least as regards its explanation to one which is causally determined Compare event (sense 4)
verb
(intransitive) to do something; carry out an action
(intransitive) to function in a specified way; operate; react: his mind acted quickly
to perform (a part or role) in a play, etc
(transitive) to present (a play, etc) on stage
(intransitive; usually foll by for or as) to be a substitute (for); function in place (of)
(intransitive) foll by as. to serve the function or purpose (of): the glass acted as protection
(intransitive) to conduct oneself or behave (as if one were): she usually acts like a lady
(intransitive) to behave in an unnatural or affected way
(copula) to pose as; play the part of: to act the fool
(copula) to behave in a manner appropriate to (esp in the phrase act one’s age)
(copula) (not standard) to seem or pretend to be: to act tired
clean up one’s act, to start to behave in a responsible manner
(informal) get in on the act, to become involved in a profitable undertaking or advantageous situation in order to share in the benefits
(informal) get one’s act together, to become organized or prepared
abbreviation
Australian Capital Territory
(formerly in Britain) advance corporation tax
noun acronym
(in New Zealand) Association of Consumers and Taxpayers: a small political party of the right
n.

late 14c., “a thing done,” from Old French acte “(official) document,” and directly from Latin actus “a doing, a driving, impulse; a part in a play, act,” and actum “a thing done,” originally a legal term, both from agere “to do, set in motion, drive, urge, chase, stir up,” from PIE root *ag- “to drive, draw out or forth, move” (cf. Greek agein “to lead, guide, drive, carry off,” agon “assembly, contest in the games,” agogos “leader;” Sanskrit ajati “drives,” ajirah “moving, active;” Old Norse aka “to drive;” Middle Irish ag “battle”).

Theatrical (“part of a play,” 1510s) and legislative (early 15c.) senses of the word also were in Latin. Meaning “display of exaggerated behavior” is from 1928. In the act “in the process” is from 1590s, perhaps originally from the 16c. sense of the act as “sexual intercourse.” Act of God “uncontrollable natural force” recorded by 1726.

An act of God is an accident which arises from a cause which operates without interference or aid from man (1 Pars. on Cont. 635); the loss arising wherefrom cannot be guarded against by the ordinary exertions of human skill and prudence so as to prevent its effect. [William Wait, “General Principles of the Law,” Albany, 1879]

v.

mid-15c., “to act upon or adjudicate” a legal case; 1590s in the theatrical sense, from Latin actus, past participle of agere (see act (n.)). To act up “be unruly” is from 1903. To act out “behave anti-socially” (1974) is from psychiatric sense of “expressing one’s unconscious impulses or desires.” Related: Acted; acting.

noun

A display of pretended feeling; an affected pretense: His elaborate grief was just an act
A dramatic mimicking; shtick,takeoff: You oughta see my Brando act

Related Terms

a class act, clean up one’s act, do the dutch, go into one’s act, sister act
a trademark for a standardized college entrance examination; originally American College Test
American Conservatory Theater
Waco Regional Airport

act of faith
act of God
act on
act one’s age
act out
act up
act upon

also see:

catch in the act
clean up (one’s act)
do a disappearing act
get in the act
get one’s act together
hard (tough) act to follow
high-wire act
in the act of
put on an act

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  • Acting up

    anything done, being done, or to be done; deed; performance: a heroic act. the process of doing: caught in the act. a formal decision, law, or the like, by a legislature, ruler, court, or other authority; decree or edict; statute; judgment, resolve, or award: an act of Congress. an instrument or document stating something done […]

  • Acting upon

    anything done, being done, or to be done; deed; performance: a heroic act. the process of doing: caught in the act. a formal decision, law, or the like, by a legislature, ruler, court, or other authority; decree or edict; statute; judgment, resolve, or award: an act of Congress. an instrument or document stating something done […]



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    a sea anemone, especially of the genus Actinia. Historical Examples This genus has been separated from actinia on account of its habit of throwing out threads when irritated. Glaucus Charles Kingsley The locomotive power of the anemone, or actinia, is very sluggish. Harper’s Young People, April 13, 1880 Various The actinia gemmacia, which is like […]

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    belonging or pertaining to the order or suborder Actiniaria, comprising the sea anemones. any sea anemone. Historical Examples Moreover, there are some modern corals in which the secondary cycle of mesenteries departs from the actinian plan. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 2, Slice 2 Various



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