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[ak-tris] /ˈæk trɪs/
a woman who acts in stage plays, motion pictures, television broadcasts, etc., especially professionally.
Origin of actress
1580-90; act(o)r + -ess
Usage note
See -ess. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for actress
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This was the document he had handed over to the actress the night before.

    A Nest of Spies Pierre Souvestre
  • But the detective and the actress had the compartment to themselves, and talked freely.

    The Opal Serpent Fergus Hume
  • He lived, for good reasons, in the same house as Florine, an actress for whom he wrote plays.

    Bureaucracy Honore de Balzac
  • "I know you'll treat me straight, Billy," said the actress, with much satisfaction.

    The Opal Serpent Fergus Hume
  • I shall endeavor not to marry the actress of questionable virtue, but I shan't attempt to etherialize politics.

    Sonia Between two Worlds Stephen McKenna
British Dictionary definitions for actress


a woman who acts in a play, film, broadcast, etc
(informal) a woman who puts on a false manner in order to deceive others
Usage note
Use of the word actress to refer to a female who acts is old-fashioned. The modern gender-neutral form is actor
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for actress

1580s, "female who does something;" see actor + -ess; stage sense is from 1700. Sometimes French actrice was used.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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