- serving temporarily, especially as a substitute during another's absence; not permanent; temporary: the acting mayor.
- designed, adapted, or suitable for stage performance.
- provided with detailed stage directions for the performer: an acting version of a play.
- the art, profession, or activity of those who perform in stage plays, motion pictures, etc.
Origin of acting
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
- 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. (in scholasticism)
- 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 actor: 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 actuate.
- 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.
Origin of act
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for acting
Even the hot Jewish women I mentioned above did something a bit more “intellectual” than pageantry: acting.Why Was Bess Myerson the First and Last Jewish Miss America?
January 7, 2015
This is acting in every sense of the word—bringing an unevolved animal to life and making it utterly believable.Oscars 2015: The Daily Beast’s Picks, From Scarlett Johansson to ‘Boyhood’
January 6, 2015
Acting legend talks about what role is closest to her heart.Gena Rowlands on Her Favorite ‘Woman’
The Daily Beast Video
January 3, 2015
To judge her acting abilities for yourself, check out her videos on YouTube for “Sex Shooter.”Speed Read: The Juiciest Bits From the History of ‘Purple Rain’
January 1, 2015
Bratton was not ready to say that Brinsley was acting as part of a group or as anything but a lone monster.Two Cops ‘Assassinated’ in Brooklyn
December 21, 2014
Stephen, moreover, always shrank from his uncle when acting professionally.The Armourer's Prentices
Charlotte M. Yonge
But are you quite certain that you are acting wisely, Miss Ward?Grace Harlowe's Return to Overton Campus
Jessie Graham Flower
In my day we used to have something like acting at the old Park.
He was acting like a crazy boy, and he was a man, all of twenty-two!
She lifted her eyes to his, and for once she was not acting.
- taking on duties temporarily, esp as a substitute for anotherthe acting president
- operating or functioningan acting order
- intended for stage performance; provided with directions for actorsan acting version of ``Hedda Gabler''
- the art or profession of an actor
- Australian Capital Territory
- (formerly in Britain) advance corporation tax
- (in New Zealand) Association of Consumers and Taxpayers: a small political party of the right
- 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 plural) 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 determinedCompare event (def. 4)
- (intr) to do something; carry out an action
- (intr) to function in a specified way; operate; reacthis mind acted quickly
- to perform (a part or role) in a play, etc
- (tr) to present (a play, etc) on stage
- (intr; usually foll by for or as) to be a substitute (for); function in place (of)
- (intr foll by as) to serve the function or purpose (of)the glass acted as protection
- (intr) to conduct oneself or behave (as if one were)she usually acts like a lady
- (intr) to behave in an unnatural or affected way
- (copula) to pose as; play the part ofto 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 beto act tired
- clean up one's act to start to behave in a responsible manner
- get in on the act informal to become involved in a profitable undertaking or advantageous situation in order to share in the benefits
- get one's act together informal to become organized or prepared
Word Origin and History for acting
1590s, "putting forth activity," present participle adjective from act (v.). Meaning "performing temporary duties" is from 1797.
c.1600, "performance of deeds;" 1660s, "performance of plays;" verbal noun from present participle of act (v.). Acting out in psychology is from 1945.
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.
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]