[ ak-shuhn ]
/ ˈæk ʃən /



characterized by brisk or dynamic action: an action car; an action melodrama.


Origin of action

1300–50; < Latin āctiōn- (stem of āctiō), equivalent to āct(us) (past participle; see act) + -iōn- -ion; replacing Middle English accioun < Anglo-French < Latin



Related forms

ac·tion·less, adjectivenon·ac·tion, nounpre·ac·tion, nounpro·ac·tion, adjective

Synonym study

2. Action, act, deed mean something done. Action applies especially to the doing, act to the result of the doing. An action usually lasts through some time and consists of more than one act: to take action on a petition. An act is single: an act of kindness. Deed emphasizes the finished or completed quality of an act; it may imply an act of some note, good or bad: an irrevocable deed; a deed of daring. 12. See battle1.

Word story

English action comes from Middle English accioun, action, one of whose common meanings is in the legal domain: “a proceeding instituted by one party against another, or the right to bring such a proceeding.” Another common meaning in Middle English is “something done, an act, a deed.” The Middle English noun comes partly from Anglo-French and Old French and partly from Latin āctiō (stem āctiōn- ). Āctiō is formed from āc-, the perfect participle stem of the verb agere, and the noun suffix -tiō, which is used to form abstract nouns from verbs (here expressing action). Latin agere has as many meanings as English do or make. The original meaning of agere was “to drive (cattle, horses, goats, beasts of burden), ride (a horse), drive (a chariot).”
Agere is from the same Proto-Indo-European root, ag- “to drive, lead, bring,” as Greek ágein “to lead, drive,” agōgós “a leader” (as in demagogue and pedagogue ). In Celtic, the participle aktos is the root of ambaktos, ambiaktos “one sent around, ambassador,” adopted from Gaulish into Latin as ambactus “servant, retainer.” Germanic adopted the Celtic word as ambachts “servant” in Gothic, ambacht in Old High German, and, much reduced, Amt “office, authority, post, duty” in German. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for proaction (1 of 2)


/ (prəʊˈækʃən) /


action that initiates change as opposed to reaction to events

Word Origin for proaction

C20: from pro- ² + (re) action

British Dictionary definitions for proaction (2 of 2)


/ (ˈækʃən) /


verb (tr)

to put into effect; take action concerningmatters decided at the meeting cannot be actioned until the following week


a command given by a film director to indicate that filming is to beginSee also cue 1 (def. 8)

Word Origin for action

C14: accioun, ultimately from Latin āctiōn-, stem of āctiō, from agere to do, 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

Medicine definitions for proaction


[ ăkshən ]


The state or process of acting or doing.
A deed.
A change that occurs in the body or in a bodily organ as a result of its functioning.
Exertion of force or power.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with proaction


In addition to the idioms beginning with action

  • actions speak louder than words

also see:

  • all talk and no action
  • piece of the action
  • swing into action
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.