• Scorpion, in act of "playing."
    Scorpion, in act of "playing."
  • WordNet 3.6
    • v act behave in a certain manner; show a certain behavior; conduct or comport oneself "You should act like an adult","Don't behave like a fool","What makes her do this way?","The dog acts ferocious, but he is really afraid of people"
    • v act pretend to have certain qualities or state of mind "He acted the idiot","She plays deaf when the news are bad"
    • v act discharge one's duties "She acts as the chair","In what capacity are you acting?"
    • v act play a role or part "Gielgud played Hamlet","She wants to act Lady Macbeth, but she is too young for the role","She played the servant to her husband's master"
    • v act perform on a stage or theater "She acts in this play","He acted in `Julius Caesar'","I played in `A Christmas Carol'"
    • v act behave unnaturally or affectedly "She's just acting"
    • v act perform an action, or work out or perform (an action) "think before you act","We must move quickly","The governor should act on the new energy bill","The nanny acted quickly by grabbing the toddler and covering him with a wet towel"
    • v act be engaged in an activity, often for no particular purpose other than pleasure
    • v act have an effect or outcome; often the one desired or expected "The voting process doesn't work as well as people thought","How does your idea work in practice?","This method doesn't work","The breaks of my new car act quickly","The medicine works only if you take it with a lot of water"
    • v act be suitable for theatrical performance "This scene acts well"
    • n act something that people do or cause to happen
    • n act a legal document codifying the result of deliberations of a committee or society or legislative body
    • n act a short theatrical performance that is part of a longer program "he did his act three times every evening","she had a catchy little routine","it was one of the best numbers he ever did"
    • n act a subdivision of a play or opera or ballet
    • n act a manifestation of insincerity "he put on quite an act for her benefit"
    • ***

Additional illustrations & photos:

"The women of Bohemia act as bricklayers' labourers." "The women of Bohemia act as bricklayers' labourers."
From Foxe's 'Actes and Monumentes,' printed by John Day, 1576 From Foxe's 'Actes and Monumentes,' printed by John Day, 1576
Horizontal Direct-Acting Naval Screw-Engine Horizontal Direct-Acting Naval Screw-Engine
Rash Act of Caius Gracchus Rash Act of Caius Gracchus
Mithridates, his rash act Mithridates, his rash act

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: The "Star Spangled Banner" did not become a national anthem until 1931. It was designated by an Act of Congress
    • Act A formal solemn writing, expressing that something has been done.
    • Act A performance of part of a play; one of the principal divisions of a play or dramatic work in which a certain definite part of the action is completed.
    • Act A state of reality or real existence as opposed to a possibility or possible existence. "The seeds of plants are not at first in act , but in possibility, what they afterward grow to be."
    • Act A thesis maintained in public, in some English universities, by a candidate for a degree, or to show the proficiency of a student.
    • Act Process of doing; action. In act, in the very doing; on the point of (doing). "In act to shoot.""This woman was taken . . . in the very act ."
    • Act That which is done or doing; the exercise of power, or the effect, of which power exerted is the cause; a performance; a deed. "That best portion of a good man's life,
      His little, nameless, unremembered acts Of kindness and of love."
    • Act The result of public deliberation; the decision or determination of a legislative body, council, court of justice, etc.; a decree, edit, law, judgment, resolve, award; as, an act of Parliament, or of Congress.
    • Act To assume the office or character of; to play; to personate; as, to act the hero.
    • Act To behave or conduct, as in morals, private duties, or public offices; to bear or deport one's self; as, we know not why he has acted so.
    • Act To exert power; to produce an effect; as, the stomach acts upon food.
    • Act To feign or counterfeit; to simulate. "With acted fear the villain thus pursued."
    • Act To move to action; to actuate; to animate. "Self-love, the spring of motion, acts the soul."
    • Act To perform actions; to fulfill functions; to put forth energy; to move, as opposed to remaining at rest; to carry into effect a determination of the will. "He hangs between, in doubt to act or rest."
    • Act To perform on the stage; to represent a character. "To show the world how Garrick did not act ."
    • Act To perform, as an actor; to represent dramatically on the stage.
    • Act To perform; to execute; to do. "That we act our temporal affairs with a desire no greater than our necessity.""Industry doth beget by producing good habits, and facility of acting things expedient for us to do.""Uplifted hands that at convenient times
      Could act extortion and the worst of crimes."
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
  • Interesting fact: Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan once wore a Nazi uniform while acting in a film during his Hollywood days. The name of the movie was "Desperate Journey," which was filmed in 1942
    • n act An exertion of energy or force, physical or mental; anything that is done or performed; a doing or deed; an operation or performance.
    • n act A state of real existence, as opposed to a possibility, power, or being in germ merely; actuality; actualization; entelechy.
    • n act The soul, according to the Aristotelians, is the act, that is, is the entelechy or perfect development of the body. So God is said to be pure act, for Aristotle says, “There must be a principle whose essence it is to be actual (η%148ς ἠ ον)σία ἐνε)ργεια),” and this is by many writers understood to mean “whose essence is to be active.” In the phrase in act, therefore, act, though properly meaning actuality, is often used to mean activity.
    • n act A part or division of a play performed consecutively or without a fall of the curtain, in which a definite and coherent portion of the plot is represented: generally subdivided into smaller portions, called scenes.
    • n act The result of public deliberation, or the decision of a prince, legislative body, council, court of justice, or magistrate; a decree, edict, law, statute, judgment, resolve, or award: as, an act of Parliament or of Congress; also, in plural, proceedings; the formal record of legislative resolves or of the doings of individuals. Acts are of two kinds: general or public, which are of general application; and private, which relate to particular persons or concerns. A law or statute proposed in a legislative body, then called a bill, becomes an act after having been passed by both branches and signed by the chief executive officer; but in a few of the United States the governor's signature is not necessary. British acts are usually referred to by mentioning them simply by the regnal year and number of chapter: as, act of 7 and 8 Vict. c. 32. American acts, particularly acts of Congress, are often referred to simply by date: as, act of May 6, 1882.
    • n act In universities, a public disputation or lecture required of a candidate for a degree of master. The performer is said to “keep the act.” Hence, at Cambridge, the thesis and examination for the degree of doctor; at Oxford, the occasion of the completion of degrees. So, act holiday, act feast. The candidate who keeps the act is also himself called the act. In medieval, and sometimes in modern scholastic use, any public defense of a thesis by way of disputation is called an act.
    • n act [Such a synopsis (cedula), stating the time of studies, the acts made, and the degrees taken by the candidate, and duly sworn to, had usually been required in universities since the middle ages.]
    • n act In law, an instrument or deed in writing, serving to prove the truth of some bargain or transaction: as, I deliver this as my act and deed. The term is used to show the connection between the instrument and the party who has given it validity by his signature or by his legal assent; when thus perfected, the instrument becomes the act of the parties who have signed it or assented to it in a form required by law. Edw. Livingston.
    • n act In theology, something done at once and once for all, as distinguished from a work. Thus, justification is said to be an act of God's free grace, but sanctification is a work carried on through life.
    • act To do, perform, or transact.
    • act To represent by action; perform on or as on the stage; play, or play the part of; hence, feign or counterfeit: as, to act Macbeth; to act the lover, or the part of a lover.
    • act To perform the office of; assume the character of: as, to act the hero.
    • act To put in action; actuate.
    • act To do something; exert energy or force in any way: used of anything capable of movement, either original or communicated, or of producing effects. Specifically
    • act To put forth effort or energy; exercise movement or agency; be employed or operative: as, to act vigorously or languidly; he is acting against his own interest; his mind acts sluggishly.
    • act To exert influence or produce effects: perform a function or functions; operate: as, praise acts as a stimulant; mind acts upon mind; the medicine failed to act; the brake refused to act, or to act upon the wheels.
    • act To be employed or operate in a particular way; perform specific duties or functions: as, a deputy acts for or in place of his principal; he refused to act on or as a member of the committee. Often used with reference to the performance of duties by a temporary substitute for the regular incumbent of an office: as, the lieutenant-governor will act in the absence of the governor. See acting.
    • act To perform as an actor; represent a character; hence, to feign or assume a part: as, he acts well; he is only acting.
    • act He is a man of sentiment, and acts up to the sentiments he professes. Sheridan, School for Scandal, i. 2. Synonyms Act, Work, Operate. These words agree in expressing the successful exertion of power. In their intransitive use they are sometimes interchangeable: as, a medicine acts, works, or operates; a plan works or operates. Where they differ, act may more often refer to a single action or to the simpler forms of action: as, a machine works well when all its parts act. Act may also be the most general, applying to persons or things, the others applying generally to things. Operate, may express the more elaborate forms of action. Work may express the more powerful kinds of action: as, it worked upon his mind.
    • n act A second act (1890) which provided for an annual appropriation, to be increased in ten years from $15,000 to a permanent sum of $25,000 from the proceeds of the sale of public land, for the more complete endowment of these institutions. This income could be applied only to instruction (with facilities) in agriculture, the mechanic arts, the English language, and other branches directly related to industrial life.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: There are approximately 100 million acts of sexual intercourse each day
    • v.i Act akt to exert force or influence: to produce an effect: to behave one's self: to feign
    • v.t Act to perform: to imitate or play the part of
    • n Act something done or doing: an exploit: the very process of doing something: a law or decision of a prince or legislative body: an instrument in writing for verification:
    • adj Act performing some duty temporarily, or for another
    • n Act (theol.) something done once for all, in opposition to a work: a distinct section of a play: in universities, a public disputation or lecture maintained by a candidate for a degree
    • ***


  • Alec Baldwin
    Alec Baldwin
    “I don't get acting jobs because of my looks.”
  • Ellen Barkin
    Ellen Barkin
    “Acting is a matter of giving away secrets.”
  • Charlie Chaplin
    “The basic essential of a great actor is that he loves himself in acting.”
  • Glenn Close
    Glenn Close
    “I really think that effective acting has to do literally with the movement of molecules.”
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge
    “To see him act is like reading Shakespeare by flashes of lightning.”
  • Marguerite Duras
    “Acting doesn't bring anything to a text. On the contrary, it detracts from it.”


Act of God - An act of God is something like an earthquake or floods that human beings cannot prevent or control.
Act of war - An act of war is a action that is either intended to start a war or that is interpreted as being sufficient cause for a war.
Class act - Someone who's a class act is exceptional in what they do.
Get in on the act - If people want to get in on the act, they want to participate in something that is currently profitable or popular.
Hard act to follow - If something or something is exceptionally good, it is difficult to replace them or take their place.
High-wire act - A high-wire act is a dangerous or risky strategy, plan, task, etc.
Read someone the riot act - If you read someone the riot act, you give them a clear warning that if they don't stop doing something, they will be in serious trouble.


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
L. actus, p. p. of agere, to drive, lead, do; but influenced by E. act, n


In literature:

And almost invariably they seem destined to act as the particular mouthpieces of the author.
"The Lonely Way--Intermezzo--Countess Mizzie" by Arthur Schnitzler
The acting Vice-President in every State must hold a yearly convention in the capital or some large town.
"The History of Woman Suffrage, Volume IV" by Various
Other deviations in the development of the germs may act in an analogous manner to blastophthoria.
"The Sexual Question" by August Forel
The small farmers and slaveholders acted as a restraint upon any tendency toward oligarchy which the gentry might have entertained.
"The Road to Independence: Virginia 1763-1783" by Virginia State Dept. of Education
The animal acts blindly so far as any conscious individual illumination or act of judgment is concerned.
"Ways of Nature" by John Burroughs
After that unholy act the dethronement and exile of the Queen were inevitable.
"Carmen Ariza" by Charles Francis Stocking
For his life-drama, or the first act of it, was soon played out.
"When Ghost Meets Ghost" by William Frend De Morgan
The first act was over.
"The Complete Project Gutenberg Works of Jane Austen" by Jane Austen
Hence, he says, it happens that the principal functions of the soul do act erroneously.
"Chapters in the History of the Insane in the British Isles" by Daniel Hack Tuke
Though I am not on the spot to see what is immediately acting there, I see some part of what she is acting in Europe.
"The Writings Of Thomas Paine, Complete" by Thomas Paine

In poetry:

Actors must make us think
they're real
Our friends must not
make us think we're acting
"Wilderness" by James Douglas Morrison
Not so ungallantly surely
Wilt thou act, as not to see
One who comes to speak with thee?
"The Purgatory Of St. Patrick - Act II" by Denis Florence MacCarthy
No marble monument to tell,
In doubtful truth,
That he had acted ill or well
In hoary age or youth.
"The Pauper’s Grave" by Benjamin Cutler Clark
Although of stature small,
Thou wert large in heart,
And for thy fellow-men
Didst act a brother's part.
"Lines Inscribed To Benjamin Lundy, Esq." by Benjamin Cutler Clark
I would reprimand your lapses,
Seeing how ungratefully
You, my son, towards me have acted.
"The Purgatory Of St. Patrick - Act III" by Denis Florence MacCarthy
What reverence is rightly paid
To a Divinity so odd
He lets the Adam whom He made
Perform the Acts of God?
"Friday's Child" by W H Auden

In news:

They dip from the same bottomless well of material -- political gaffes, the economy, the Kardashians -- and, while a "Totally Biased" test-run screener indicated that race (and racism) are a part of Bell 's act, they're not the whole act.
Candice Bergen began acting when she was just 19 years old, but says she didn't love acting until she found her footing in comedy - at age 42.
2617(a), Family and Medical Leave Act, FMLA, liquidated damages The federal district court correctly determined that defendant interfered with plaintiff's Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) rights.
The government isn't acting like a venture capitalist — it's acting like a super-venture- capitalist .
TRENTON – Related misdemeanor charges against Harold Hall, the former acting director of public works, and Edmund Johnson, the acting president of the city employees union, have been dropped.
Pfff, random acts Try coordinated acts of kindness.
The FISA surveillance act had its day in court yesterday, but the subject was solely whether the act would ever have a real day in court.
Says Consumer Credit Act is 'Credit Card Loan Sharking Act'.
Do your kids ever act up or act out.
Pressure on corrupt politicians and businessmen now comes not only from within their own societies, but also from authorities enforcing America's Foreign Corrupt Practices Act or Britain's Anti-Bribery Act.
As the Supreme Court begins hearings that could spell the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act, the Ms Blog will highlight what the act has done–and will do–for women.
Party people salute the C's, including acting Croatian Ambassador to the U.S. On recent evenings, the Croatian American Society held a dance and limelighted acting Croatian Ambassador to the US Vice Skracic and his wife, Helen.
DOJ acting antitrust head to step down: Joseph Wayland, who has been the acting head of the Department of Justice 's antitrust division, will be stepping down from his position.
ADA President William Calnon has been named acting director of Eastman Institute of Oral Health and acting chair of the Department of Dentistry, effective Aug 1.
As the name suggests, the US Espionage Act of 1917 is intended to punish those who commit acts of treason, whether for personal gain or out of ideological conviction.

In science:

Instead of acting as a random death probability for all the population, the Verhulst factor acts only on the individuals whose genomes have not been tested by the environment yet, the newborn (VB).
Random deaths in a computational model for age-structured populations
Cℓ = C as a vector space and g ⊗ C[t] acts as zero on Cℓ and c acts as ℓ.
Generalized vertex algebras generated by parafermion-like vertex operators
Thus left multiplication by w acting on RS corresponds to right multiplication by P acting on row vectors (as )s∈S .
Semigroups, rings, and Markov chains
In particular, left multiplication by our element w acting on CG is transformed to multiplication by ˆw acting on C ˆG .
Semigroups, rings, and Markov chains
Moreover φα(x, y ) act as an intertwining operator connecting induced representations of R acting on G and S/R.
Supersymmetry Breaking by Dimensional Reduction over Coset Spaces