act: Meaning and Definition of


Pronunciation: (akt), [key]
— n.
  1. anything done, being done, or to be done; deed; performance: a heroic act.
  2. the process of doing: caught in the act.
  3. 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.
  4. an instrument or document stating something done or transacted.
  5. one of the main divisions of a play or opera:Hamlet. the second act of
  6. a short performance by one or more entertainers, usually part of a variety show or radio or television program.
  7. the personnel of such a group: The act broke up after 30 years.
  8. false show; pretense; feint: The politician's pious remarks were all an act.
  9. (in scholasticism)
    1. activity in process; operation.
    2. the principle or power of operation.
    3. form as determining essence.
    4. a state of realization, as opposed to potentiality.
  10. to begin adhering to more acceptable practices, rules of behavior, etc.: The factory must clean up its act and treat its employees better.
  11. to organize one's time, job, resources, etc., so as to function efficiently: The new administration is still getting its act together.
  1. to do something; exert energy or force; be employed or operative: He acted promptly in the emergency.
  2. to reach, make, or issue a decision on some matter: I am required to act before noon tomorrow.
  3. to operate or function in a particular way; perform specific duties or functions: to act as manager.
  4. to produce an effect; perform a function: The medicine failed to act.
  5. to behave or conduct oneself in a particular fashion: to act well under all conditions.
  6. to pretend; feign: Act interested even if you're bored.
  7. to perform as an actor: He acted in three plays by Molière.
  8. to be capable of being performed: His plays don't act well.
  9. to serve or substitute (usually fol. by for): In my absence the assistant manager will act for me.
  1. to represent (a fictitious or historical character) with one's person: to act Macbeth.
  2. to feign; counterfeit: to act outraged virtue.
  3. to behave as: He acted the fool.
  4. to actuate.
  5. to display eccentric or suspicious behavior.
  6. He acted on my advice.
    1. to act in accordance with; follow:He acted on my advice.
    2. to have an effect on; affect:The stirring music acted on the emotions of the audience.
  7. to behave in a manner appropriate to one's maturity: We children enjoyed our uncle because he didn't always act his age.
  8. The party guests acted out stories for one another.
    1. to demonstrate or illustrate by pantomime or by words and gestures:The party guests acted out stories for one another.
    2. give overt expression to (repressed emotions or impulses) without insightful understanding:The patients acted out early traumas by getting angry with the analyst.
  9. The vacuum cleaner is acting up again.
    1. to fail to function properly; malfunction:The vacuum cleaner is acting up again.
    2. to behave willfully:The children always act up in school the day before a holiday.
    3. to become painful or troublesome, esp. after a period of improvement or remission:My arthritis is acting up again this morning.


Pronunciation: [key]
  1. American College Test.
  2. Association of Classroom Teachers.
  3. Australian Capital Territory.


Pronunciation: [key]
  1. acting.
  2. active.
  3. actor.
  4. actual.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.
See also:
  • act (Thesaurus)