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Origin of actor

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin āctor, equivalent to āg- (see act) + -tor -tor
Related formsnon·ac·tor, noun


noun Classical Mythology.
  1. a brother of King Augeas, sometimes believed to be the father, by Molione, of Eurytus and Cteatus.
Compare Moliones. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for actor

Contemporary Examples of actor

Historical Examples of actor

  • One common grave, according to Garrick, covers the actor and his art.

  • It was all in his favour that he should have been forced at first to win his spurs as an actor.

  • Could anything be more dull than the life of an actor in a repertory theatre?

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

  • All these actor cheps know it, so of course 'e'd 'a' known abaht it, too.

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

  • Montigny had been an actor, and was plump and good-humoured.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

British Dictionary definitions for actor


  1. a person who acts in a play, film, broadcast, etc
  2. informal a person who puts on a false manner in order to deceive others (often in the phrase bad actor)


The term actor is almost universally used nowadays to refer to people of either gender who act
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 actor

late 14c., "an overseer, guardian, steward," from Latin actor "an agent or doer," also "theatrical player," from past participle stem of agere (see act (n.)). Mid-15c. as "a doer, maker," also "a plaintiff." Sense of "one who performs in plays" is 1580s, originally applied to both men and women.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper