[ ak-ting ]
/ ˈæk tɪŋ /


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

First recorded in 1595–1605; act + -ing2, -ing1


pro·act·ing, adjectiveun·act·ing, adjective

Definition for acting (2 of 2)

Origin of act

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English act(e) (from Middle French), from Latin ācta, plural of āctum “something done,” noun use of past participle of agere “to do” (āg- past participle stem + -tum neuter past participle suffix); and directly from Latin āctus “a doing” (āg- + -tus suffix of verbal action)


synonym study for act

1. See action. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for acting

British Dictionary definitions for acting (1 of 4)

/ (ˈæktɪŋ) /

adjective (prenominal)

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

British Dictionary definitions for acting (2 of 4)


abbreviation for

Australian Capital Territory
(formerly in Britain) advance corporation tax

British Dictionary definitions for acting (3 of 4)

/ (ækt) /

n acronym for

(in New Zealand) Association of Consumers and Taxpayers: a small political party of the right

British Dictionary definitions for acting (4 of 4)

/ (ækt) /



See also act on, act out, act up

Derived forms of act

actable, adjectiveactability, noun

Word Origin for act

C14: from Latin actus a doing, performance, and actum a thing done, from the past participle of agere to do
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

Idioms and Phrases with acting


In addition to the idioms beginning with act

  • act of faith
  • act of God
  • act on
  • act one's age
  • act out
  • act up
  • act upon

also see:

  • catch in the act
  • clean up (one's act)
  • do a disappearing act
  • get in the act
  • get one's act together
  • hard (tough) act to follow
  • high-wire act
  • in the act of
  • put on an act
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.