Act 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 doc-ment 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.

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 subst-tute (usually followed by for):
in my absence the -ssistant manager will act for me.
to represent (a fict-tious 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 ill-strate 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 -n-lyst.

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

teased for their slowness, many become depressed and angry and act out.
the real juvenile offenders daniela drake june 21, 2013

so what and how he is able to “act out” and the magnitude of his less-than-stellar decisions is a whole different ballpark.
justin bieber’s spiritual crisis joshua dubois january 25, 2014

ordinary regulations are often seen within the community as a tool for cops to act out anti-semitic fantasies.
from circ-mcision to molestation, how the ultra-orthodox place children at risk steven i. weiss may 16, 2012

i played cersei lannister in an adult video parody version of it and was able to act out a fantasy of my own.
what p-rn stars find s-xy on tv: from ‘game of thrones’ to ‘deadliest catch’ aurora snow september 19, 2014

these are left to literature and film to imagine and explore—and to mark ruffalo to act out.
the seductive sperm donor jessica shattuck august 2, 2010

historical examples

we want the nation to act out the principles it believes in.
the american missionary, vol. 43, no. 7, july, 1889 various

they are—i mean they act out a king and queen and their court.
prince vance eleanor putnam

it might be an excellent play to act out in the deep night, except that under the mask the divine name is reviled.
the epistles of st. peter and st. jude preached and explained martin luther

it could not act in its own province, unless it had a right to act out of it.
apologia pro vita sua john henry cardinal newman

a spirit sometimes finds himself as if on a stage, and the pressure of a powerful will bids him to act out his own character.
beyond henry seward hubbard

verb (adverb)
(transitive) to reproduce (an idea, former event, etc) in actions, often by mime
(psychiatry) to express unconsciously (a repressed impulse or experience) in overt behaviour
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 -ssumed att-tude 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)
(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 subst-tute (for); function in place (of)
(intransitive) foll by as. to serve the function or purpose (of): the gl-ss 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
australian capital territory
(formerly in britain) advance corporation tax
noun acronym
(in new zealand) -ssociation of consumers and taxpayers: a small political party of the right

late 14c., “a thing done,” from old french acte “(official) doc-ment,” 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 “-ssembly, 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 “s-xual intercourse.” act of g-d “uncontrollable natural force” recorded by 1726.

an act of g-d 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]


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.


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 cl-ss 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
perform or portray something or someone, as in as she read to the cl-ss, the teacher had each child act out a different character in the story. [ c. 1600 ]
express unconscious feelings or impulses through one’s behavior, without being aware of it. for example, she acted out her anger at her father by screaming at her husband. this meaning comes from 20th-century psychological theory and usually (but not always) refers to negative or hostile impulses and emotions. the term is sometimes used without an object to mean “misbehave” or “behave disruptively,” as in the child is acting out in cl-ss. [ first half of 1900s ]
in both usages, out means “openly” or “publicly.”

act of faith
act of g-d
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

Read Also:

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