[ 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.

Nearby words

  1. actin,
  2. actin filament,
  3. actin-,
  4. actinal,
  5. actinally,
  6. acting area,
  7. actinia,
  8. actinian,
  9. actinic,
  10. actinic cheilitis

Origin of acting

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

Related formspro·act·ing, adjectiveun·act·ing, adjective

Origin of act

1350–1400; Middle English act(e) (< Middle French) < 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 < Latin āctus a doing (āg- + -tus suffix of v. action)

1. feat, exploit; achievement; transaction; accomplishment. See action. 4. record. 6. turn, routine. 10–13. perform, function, work. play. 19, 21 play.

Related forms Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for acting

British Dictionary definitions for acting


/ (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



abbreviation for

Australian Capital Territory
(formerly in Britain) advance corporation tax


/ (ækt) /

n acronym for

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


/ (ækt) /



See also act on, act out, act up

Derived Formsactable, 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

Word Origin and History for acting
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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.