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Meaning of displacement activity

displace'ment activ"ity

Pronunciation: [key]
— Animal Behav. Animal Behav.
  1. a behavior performed out of its usual context and apparently irrelevant to the prevailing situation, as eating when an unknown individual approaches, tending to occur when appropiate behaviors, as attacking or fleeing, are in conflict or obstructed.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.