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Webster 1913 Edition


Act

Act

(ăkt)
,
Noun.
[L.
actus
, fr.
agere
to drive, do: cf. F.
acte
. See
Agent
.]
1.
That which is done or doing; the exercise of power, or the effect, of which power exerted is the cause; a performance; a deed.
That best portion of a good man’s life,
His little, nameless, unremembered
acts

Of kindness and of love.
Wordsworth.
Hence, in specific uses:
(a)
The result of public deliberation; the decision or determination of a legislative body, council, court of justice, etc.; a decree, edit, law, judgment, resolve, award;
as, an
act
of Parliament, or of Congress
.
(b)
A formal solemn writing, expressing that something has been done.
Abbott.
(c)
A performance of part of a play; one of the principal divisions of a play or dramatic work in which a certain definite part of the action is completed.
(d)
A thesis maintained in public, in some English universities, by a candidate for a degree, or to show the proficiency of a student.
2.
A state of reality or real existence as opposed to a possibility or possible existence.
[Obs.]
The seeds of plants are not at first in
act
, but in possibility, what they afterward grow to be.
Hooker.
3.
Process of doing; action. In act, in the very doing; on the point of (doing).
In act to shoot.”
Dryden.
This woman was taken . . . in the very
act
.
John viii. 4.
Act of attainder
.
(Law)
See
Attainder
.
Act of bankruptcy
(Law)
,
an act of a debtor which renders him liable to be adjudged a bankrupt.
Act of faith
.
(Ch. Hist.)
Act of God
(Law)
,
an inevitable accident; such extraordinary interruption of the usual course of events as is not to be looked for in advance, and against which ordinary prudence could not guard.
Act of grace
,
an expression often used to designate an act declaring pardon or amnesty to numerous offenders, as at the beginning of a new reign.
Act of indemnity
,
a statute passed for the protection of those who have committed some illegal act subjecting them to penalties.
Abbott.
Act in pais
,
a thing done out of court (anciently, in the country), and not a matter of record.
Syn. – See
Action
.

Act

,
Verb.
T.
[
imp. & p. p.
Acted
;
p. pr. & vb. n.
Acting
.]
[L.
actus
, p. p. of
agere
to drive, lead, do; but influenced by E.
act
, n.]
1.
To move to action; to actuate; to animate.
[Obs.]
Self-love, the spring of motion,
acts
the soul.
Pope.
2.
To perform; to execute; to do.
[Archaic]
That we
act
our temporal affairs with a desire no greater than our necessity.
Jer. Taylor.
Industry doth beget by producing good habits, and facility of
acting
things expedient for us to do.
Barrow.
Uplifted hands that at convenient times
Could
act
extortion and the worst of crimes.
Cowper.
3.
To perform, as an actor; to represent dramatically on the stage.
4.
To assume the office or character of; to play; to personate;
as, to
act
the hero
.
5.
To feign or counterfeit; to simulate.
With
acted
fear the villain thus pursued.
Dryden.
To act a part
,
to sustain the part of one of the characters in a play; hence, to simulate; to dissemble.
To act the part of
,
to take the character of; to fulfill the duties of.

Act

,
Verb.
I.
1.
To exert power; to produce an effect;
as, the stomach
acts
upon food
.
2.
To perform actions; to fulfill functions; to put forth energy; to move, as opposed to remaining at rest; to carry into effect a determination of the will.
He hangs between, in doubt to
act
or rest.
Pope.
3.
To behave or conduct, as in morals, private duties, or public offices; to bear or deport one's self;
as, we know not why he has
acted
so
.
4.
To perform on the stage; to represent a character.
To show the world how Garrick did not
act
.
Cowper.
To act as
or
To act for
,
to do the work of; to serve as.
To act on
,
to regulate one's conduct according to.
To act up to
,
to equal in action; to fulfill in practice;
as, he has
acted up to
his engagement or his advantages
.

Webster 1828 Edition


Act

ACT

,
Verb.
I.
[Gr., Lat. to urge, drive, lead, bring, do, perform, or in general to move, to exert force.]
1.
To exert power; as, the stomach acts upon food; the will acts upon the body in producing motion.
2.
To be in action or motion; to move
He hangs between in doubt to act or rest.
3.
To behave, demean, or conduct, as in morals, private duties, or public offices; as, we know not why a minister has acted in this manner. But in this sense, it is most frequent in popular language; as, how the man acts or has acted.
To act up to, is to equal in action; to fulfil or perform a correspondent action; as he has acted up to his engagement or his advantages.

Definition 2022


act

act

See also: ACT, act., Act., A.C.T., and A. C. T.

English

Noun

act (countable and uncountable, plural acts)

  1. (countable) Something done, a deed.
    an act of goodwill
    • Wordsworth
      That best portion of a good man's life, / His little, nameless, unremembered acts / Of kindness and of love.
  2. (obsolete, uncountable) Actuality.
    • Hooker
      The seeds of plants are not at first in act, but in possibility, what they afterward grow to be.
  3. (countable) A product of a legislative body, a statute.
    • 2012 March 1, William E. Carter, Merri Sue Carter, “The British Longitude Act Reconsidered”, in American Scientist, volume 100, number 2, page 87:
      But was it responsible governance to pass the Longitude Act without other efforts to protect British seamen? Or might it have been subterfuge—a disingenuous attempt to shift attention away from the realities of their life at sea.
  4. The process of doing something.
    He was caught in the act of stealing.
  5. (countable) A formal or official record of something done.
  6. (countable) A division of a theatrical performance.
    • 1905, Baroness Emmuska Orczy, chapter 2, in The Lisson Grove Mystery:
      “H'm ! he said, so, soit is a tragedy in a prologue and three acts. I am going down this afternoon to see the curtain fall for the third time on what [...] will prove a good burlesque ; but it all began dramatically enough. It was last Saturday […] that two boys, playing in the little spinney just outside Wembley Park Station, came across three large parcels done up in American cloth. […]”
    The pivotal moment in the play was in the first scene of the second act.
  7. (countable) A performer or performers in a show.
    Which act did you prefer? The soloist or the band?
  8. (countable) Any organized activity.
    • 1934, Babette Hughes, One egg: a farce in one act, page 46:
      The minute you let it be known you're planning a sales campaign everybody wants to get into the act.
  9. (countable) A display of behaviour.
  10. A thesis maintained in public, in some English universities, by a candidate for a degree, or to show the proficiency of a student.
  11. (countable) A display of behaviour meant to deceive.
    to put on an act

Synonyms

  • (something done): deed
  • (product of a legislative body): statute
  • (display of behavior): pretense

Meronyms

Holonyms

Derived terms

Related terms

Translations

Verb

act (third-person singular simple present acts, present participle acting, simple past and past participle acted)

  1. (intransitive) To do something.
    If you don't act soon, you will be in trouble.
  2. (obsolete, transitive) To do (something); to perform.
    • Jeremy Taylor
      that we act our temporal affairs with a desire no greater than our necessity
    • Barrow
      Industry doth beget by producing good habits, and facility of acting things expedient for us to do.
    • Cowper
      Uplifted hands that at convenient times / Could act extortion and the worst of crimes.
  3. (intransitive) To perform a theatrical role.
    I started acting at the age of eleven in my local theatre.
  4. (intransitive) To behave in a certain way.
    He's acting strangely - I think there's something wrong with him.
  5. (copulative) To convey an appearance of being.
    He acted unconcerned so the others wouldn't worry.
  6. To do something that causes a change binding on the doer.
    act on behalf of John
  7. (intransitive, construed with on or upon) To have an effect (on).
    High-pressure oxygen acts on the central nervous system and may cause convulsions or death.
    Gravitational force acts on heavy bodies.
  8. (transitive) To play (a role).
    He's been acting Shakespearean leads since he was twelve.
  9. (transitive) To feign.
    He acted the angry parent, but was secretly amused.
    • Dryden
      With acted fear the villain thus pursued.
  10. (mathematics, intransitive, construed with on or upon, of a group) To map via a homomorphism to a group of automorphisms (of).
    This group acts on the circle, so it can't be left-orderable!
  11. (obsolete, transitive) To move to action; to actuate; to animate.
    • Alexander Pope
      Self-love, the spring of motion, acts the soul.

Derived terms

Related terms

Translations

Anagrams


Romanian

Etymology

Borrowed from French acte, from Latin actus.

Noun

act n (plural acte)

  1. act, deed, action

Related terms

See also