What does act mean?

Definitions for act

Here are all the possible meanings and translations of the word act.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. act, enactmentnoun

    a legal document codifying the result of deliberations of a committee or society or legislative body

  2. act, deed, human action, human activitynoun

    something that people do or cause to happen

  3. actnoun

    a subdivision of a play or opera or ballet

  4. act, routine, number, turn, bitnoun

    a short theatrical performance that is part of a longer program

    "he did his act three times every evening"; "she had a catchy little routine"; "it was one of the best numbers he ever did"

  5. actverb

    a manifestation of insincerity

    "he put on quite an act for her benefit"

  6. act, moveverb

    perform an action, or work out or perform (an action)

    "think before you act"; "We must move quickly"; "The governor should act on the new energy bill"; "The nanny acted quickly by grabbing the toddler and covering him with a wet towel"

  7. act, behave, doverb

    behave in a certain manner; show a certain behavior; conduct or comport oneself

    "You should act like an adult"; "Don't behave like a fool"; "What makes her do this way?"; "The dog acts ferocious, but he is really afraid of people"

  8. act, play, representverb

    play a role or part

    "Gielgud played Hamlet"; "She wants to act Lady Macbeth, but she is too young for the role"; "She played the servant to her husband's master"

  9. actverb

    discharge one's duties

    "She acts as the chair"; "In what capacity are you acting?"

  10. act, play, act asverb

    pretend to have certain qualities or state of mind

    "He acted the idiot"; "She plays deaf when the news are bad"

  11. actverb

    be suitable for theatrical performance

    "This scene acts well"

  12. work, actverb

    have an effect or outcome; often the one desired or expected

    "The voting process doesn't work as well as people thought"; "How does your idea work in practice?"; "This method doesn't work"; "The breaks of my new car act quickly"; "The medicine works only if you take it with a lot of water"

  13. actverb

    be engaged in an activity, often for no particular purpose other than pleasure

  14. dissemble, pretend, actverb

    behave unnaturally or affectedly

    "She's just acting"

  15. act, play, roleplay, playactverb

    perform on a stage or theater

    "She acts in this play"; "He acted in `Julius Caesar'"; "I played in `A Christmas Carol'"


  1. actnoun

    Something done, a deed.

    An act of good will.

  2. actnoun


  3. actnoun

    A product of a legislative body, a statute.

  4. actnoun

    The process of doing something.

    He was caught in the act.

  5. actnoun

    A formal or official record of something done.

  6. actnoun

    A division of a theatrical performance.

    The pivotal moment in the play was in the first scene of the second act.

  7. actnoun

    A performer or performers in a show.

    Which act did you prefer? The soloist or the band?

  8. actnoun

    Any organized activity.

  9. actnoun

    A display of behaviour.

  10. actverb

    To do something.

    If you don't act soon, you will be in trouble.

  11. actverb

    To perform a theatrical role.

    I started acting at the age of eleven in my local theatre.

  12. actverb

    To behave in a certain way.

    He's acting strangely - I think there's something wrong with him.

  13. actverb

    To convey an appearance of being.

    He acted unconcerned so the others wouldn't worry.

  14. actverb

    To have an effect (on).

  15. actverb

    To play (a role).

    He's been acting Shakespearean leads since he was twelve.

  16. actverb

    To feign.

    He acted the angry parent, but was secretly amused.

  17. actverb

    To map via a homomorphism to a group of automorphisms (of).

    This group acts on the circle, so it can't be left-orderable!

  18. Etymology: acte, from acta, plural of actum, from ago.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Actnoun

    Etymology: actum, Lat.

    I’ve done enough. A lower place, not well,
    May make too great an act: for learn this, Silius,
    Better to leave undone than by our deed
    Acquire too high a fame, when he, we serve, ’s away. William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra.

    The conscious wretch must all his acts reveal;
    Loth to confess, unable to conceal;
    From the first moment of his vital breath,
    To his last hour of unrepenting death. John Dryden, Æneid vi.

    I will try the forces
    Of these thy compounds on such creatures as
    We count not worth the hanging; but none human;
    To try the vigour of them, and apply
    Allayments to their act; and by them gather
    Their several virtues and effects. William Shakespeare, Cymbeline.

    ’Tis so much in your nature to do good, that your life is but one continued act of placing benefits on many, as the sun is always carrying his light to some part or other of the world. John Dryden, Fables, Dedicat.

    Who forth from nothing call’d this comely frame,
    His will and act, his word and work the same. Matthew Prior.

    This act persuades me,
    That this remotion of the duke and her,
    Is practice only. William Shakespeare, King Lear.

    The seeds of herbs and plants at the first are not in act, but in possibility that which they afterwards grow to be. Richard Hooker.

    God alone excepted, who actually and everlastingly is whatsoever he may be, and which cannot hereafter be that which now he is not; all other things besides are somewhat in possibility, which as yet they are not in act. Richard Hooker, b. i.

    Sure they’re conscious
    Of some intended mischief, and are fled
    To put it into act. John Denham, Sophy.

    Her legs were buskin’d, and the left before;
    In act to shoot, a silver bow she bore. John Dryden, Fables.

    Many never doubt but the whole condition required by Christ, the repentance he came to preach, will, in that last scene of their last act, immediately before the exit, be as opportunely and acceptably performed, as at any other point of their lives. Henry Hammond, Fundamentals.

    Five acts are the just measure of a play. Wentworth Dillon.

    They make edicts for usury to support usurers, repeal daily any wholesome act established against the rich, and provide more piercing statutes daily to chain up and restrain the poor. William Shakespeare, Coriolanus.

    You that are king, though he do wear the crown,
    Have caus’d him, by new act of parliament,
    To blot out me. William Shakespeare, Henry VI. p. iii.

    Judicial acts are all those matters, which relate to judicial proceedings; and being reduced into writing by a publick notary, are recorded by the authority of the judge. John Ayliffe, Parergon Juris Canonici.

  2. To ACTverb

    Etymology: ago, actum, Lat.

    He hangs between in doubt to act or rest. Alexander Pope, Ess. on Man.

    Albeit the will is not capable of being compelled to any of its actings, yet it is capable of being made to act with more or less difficulty, according to the different impressions it receives from motives or objects. Robert South, Sermons.

    ’Tis plain, that she who, for a kingdom now,
    Would sacrifice her love, and break her vow,
    Not out of love, but interest, acts alone,
    And would, ev’n in my arms, lie thinking of a throne. John Dryden, Conquest of Granada.

    The desire of happiness, and the constraint it puts upon us to act for it, no body accounts an abridgment of liberty. John Locke.

    The splendour of his office, is the token of that sacred character which he inwardly bears: and one of these ought constantly to put him in mind of the other, and excite him to act up to it, through the whole course of his administration. Francis Atterbury, Sermons.

    It is our part and duty to co-operate with this grace, vigorously to exert those powers, and act up to those advantages to which it restores us. He has given eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame. John Rogers, Sermons.

    Honour and shame from no condition rise;
    Act well your part, there all the honour lies. Alexander Pope, Essay on Man, ep. 4. l. 193.

    His former trembling once again renew’d,
    With acted fear the villain thus pursu’d. John Dryden, Æneid. 2.

    Hence ’tis we wait the wond’rous cause to find
    How body acts upon impassive mind. Samuel Garth, Dispensary.

    The stomach, the intestines, the muscles of the lower belly, all act upon the aliment; besides, the chyle is not sucked, but squeezed into the mouths of the lacteals, by the action of the fibres of the guts. John Arbuthnot, on Aliments.

    Most people in the world are acted by levity and humour, by strange and irrational changes. Robert South, Sermons.

    Perhaps they are as proud as Lucifer, as covetous as Demas, as false as Judas, and, in the whole course of their conversation, act, and are acted, not by devotion, but design.

    We suppose two distinct incommunicable consciousnesses acting the same body, the one constantly by day, the other by night; and, on the other side, the same consciousness acting by intervals two distinct bodies. John Locke.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Actnoun

    that which is done or doing; the exercise of power, or the effect, of which power exerted is the cause; a performance; a deed

  2. Actnoun

    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

  3. Actnoun

    a formal solemn writing, expressing that something has been done

  4. Actnoun

    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

  5. Actnoun

    a thesis maintained in public, in some English universities, by a candidate for a degree, or to show the proficiency of a student

  6. Actnoun

    a state of reality or real existence as opposed to a possibility or possible existence

  7. Actnoun

    process of doing; action. In act, in the very doing; on the point of (doing)

  8. Actverb

    to move to action; to actuate; to animate

  9. Actverb

    to perform; to execute; to do

  10. Actverb

    to perform, as an actor; to represent dramatically on the stage

  11. Actverb

    to assume the office or character of; to play; to personate; as, to act the hero

  12. Actverb

    to feign or counterfeit; to simulate

  13. Actverb

    to exert power; to produce an effect; as, the stomach acts upon food

  14. Actverb

    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

  15. Actverb

    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

  16. Actverb

    to perform on the stage; to represent a character

  17. Etymology: [L. actus, p. p. of agere to drive, lead, do; but influenced by E. act, n.]


  1. ACT

    The ACT college readiness assessment is a standardized test for high school achievement and college admissions in the United States produced by ACT, Inc. It was first administered in November 1959 by Everett Franklin Lindquist as a competitor to the College Board's Scholastic Aptitude Test, now the SAT Reasoning Test. The ACT has historically consisted of four tests: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science Reasoning. In February 2005, an optional Writing test was added to the ACT, mirroring changes to the SAT that took place later in March of the same year. In the Spring of 2015, the ACT will start to be offered as a computer-based test that will incorporate some optional Constructed Response Questions; the test content, composite score and multiple choice format will not be affected by these changes. The test will continue to be offered in the paper format for schools that are not ready to transition to computer testing. The ACT has seen an increase in the number of test takers recently; In 2011 the ACT surpassed the SAT as 1,666,017 students took the ACT and 1,664,479 students took the SAT. All four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. accept the ACT, but different institutions place different emphases on standardized tests such as the ACT, compared to other factors of evaluation such as class rank, GPA, and extracurricular activities. The main four tests are scored individually on a scale of 1–36, and a Composite score is provided which is the whole number average of the four scores.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Act

    akt, v.i. to exert force or influence: to produce an effect: to behave one's self: to feign.—v.t. to perform: to imitate or play the part of.—n. something done or doing: an exploit: the very process of doing something: a law or decision of a prince or legislative body: an instrument in writing for verification: (theol.) something done once for all, in opposition to a work: a distinct section of a play: in universities, a public disputation or lecture maintained by a candidate for a degree.—n. Act′ing, action: act of performing an assumed or a dramatic part: feigning.—adj. performing some duty temporarily, or for another.—n. Act′or, one who acts: a stage-player:—fem. Act′ress.—Act of God, a result of natural forces, unexpected and not preventable by human foresight.—In act to, on the very point of doing something.—To act on, to act in accordance with; To act up to, to come up in practice to some expected standard: to fulfil. [L. agĕre, actum; Gr. agein, to put in motion; Sans. aj, to drive.]

The Roycroft Dictionary

  1. act

    1. Thought in motion. 2. An actor who says he gets three thousand a week.

Editors Contribution

  1. act

    A form of legislation.

    The Human Rights Act is a tool for the creation of further legislation and all legislation is reviewed to ensure it is aligned to this act.

    Submitted by MaryC on April 19, 2020  

  2. act

    To communicate or express ourselves a specific way.

    The children do act so responsibly together and their parents trust them to make intelligent, responsible choices.

    Submitted by MaryC on April 5, 2020  

  3. act

    To function in a specific way.

    They did act very responsibly together and when they were at their respective roles.

    Submitted by MaryC on February 12, 2020  

Suggested Resources

  1. act

    Song lyrics by act -- Explore a large variety of song lyrics performed by act on the Lyrics.com website.

  2. ACT

    What does ACT stand for? -- Explore the various meanings for the ACT acronym on the Abbreviations.com website.

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'act' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #408

  2. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'act' in Written Corpus Frequency: #1275

  3. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'act' in Nouns Frequency: #123

  4. Verbs Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'act' in Verbs Frequency: #167

Anagrams for act »

  1. ATC

  2. ATC

  3. cat

  4. Cat

  5. CAT

  6. tac

  7. TAC

  8. TCA

  9. cat

  10. Cat

  11. CAT

  12. tac

  13. TAC

  14. TCA

How to pronounce act?

How to say act in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of act in Chaldean Numerology is: 8

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of act in Pythagorean Numerology is: 6

Examples of act in a Sentence

  1. Vladan Kuzmanovic:

    The avant-garde is a connotation, every act here is a connotative value. The whole series of avant-garde movements do not signify, and yet their concepts are reconnotation.

  2. Angelica Wind:

    A community's first reaction is wanting to not believe that the person that they trusted is capable of causing such an act of violence, we can not give power to sexual violence by silencing survivors.

  3. Francois Legault:

    I repeat our demand to Mr. Trudeau – it’s time to act, we can either ban non-essential travel or isolate travelers in hotels.

  4. Eran Raizman:

    If we don't act now we'll cry for generations because it will be very difficult, given the growth of the poultry industry in Africa, to control the disease.

  5. Khalil Gibran:

    The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the greatest intention.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for act

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • عملArabic
  • эш, ғәмәлBashkir
  • дзейнічаць, падзейнічаць, паступіць, паступацьBelarusian
  • държа се, въздействам, играя, върша, правя, постъпвам, действам, деяние, действие, постъпка, постановление, документ, законBulgarian
  • comportar, portar, actuar, acteCatalan, Valencian
  • působit, skutek, dějství, čin, zákonCzech
  • actio, deddfWelsh
  • optræde, opføre, agere, handle, spille, virke, akt, handling, dådDanish
  • benehmen, agieren, fungieren, tun, wirken, handeln, auswirken, spielen, machen, Spiel, Handlung, Akt, Tat, Rechtsgeschäft, Gesetz, Verordnung, AkteGerman
  • dɔwɔwɔEwe
  • υποδύομαι, πράττω, συμπεριφέρομαι, δρω, ενεργώ, επενεργώ, πράξη, διάβημα, ενέργειαGreek
  • aktori, agi, agoEsperanto
  • comportar, actuar, acto, ley, hecho, acciónSpanish
  • tegu, vaatusEstonian
  • کارPersian
  • näytellä, toimia, vaikuttaa, tehdä, tekeminen, näytös, laki, olemassaolo, teko, pöytäkirjaFinnish
  • se comporter, jouer, faire, agir, acte, action, loi, éditFrench
  • achd, gnìomh, earrannScottish Gaelic
  • comportar, portar, actuar, actoGalician
  • אקט, חק, פעולה, מעשה, מערכהHebrew
  • játszikHungarian
  • գործողություն, արարք, ակտArmenian
  • fare, agire, comportarsi, legge, messinscena, atto, scena, numeroItalian
  • 演技, 行動, 行為, 法令, 幕Japanese
  • ទង្វើKhmer
  • kirin, tesîr kirin, lîstin, kar, hebûn, xebat, perde, bîrname, kiryar, qanûnKurdish
  • иш аракет, аракет, иш, кыймылKyrgyz
  • facio, gero, geror, ago, me geroLatin
  • agéierenLuxembourgish, Letzeburgesch
  • tēlot, cēliensLatvian
  • tindak, lakon, pura, akta, babak, اکتاMalay
  • werken, optreden, opvoeren, reageren, spelen, acteren, handelen, gedragen, toneelspelen, handeling, akte, wet, daadDutch
  • acteOccitan
  • ଧାରାOriya
  • zachowywać, grać, zachować się, akt, działanie, czynPolish
  • agir, comportar-se, atuar, ato, ata, açãoPortuguese
  • вести, влиять, действовать, играть, делать, поступать, деяние, акт, постановление, поступок, действие, дело, притворство, закон, документ, играRussian
  • ක්‍රියාව, පනතSinhala, Sinhalese
  • čin, skutok, dejstvoSlovak
  • handla, spela, uppföra, agera, bete, handling, dåd, aktSwedish
  • tenda, kitendoSwahili
  • செயல்Tamil
  • నటించు, ప్రవర్తించు, క్రియ, చేత, పని, అంకము, చర్య, చట్టంTelugu
  • поводитись, грати, чинити, діяти, акт, дія, вчинокUkrainian

Get even more translations for act »


Find a translation for the act definition in other languages:

Select another language:

  • - Select -
  • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
  • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
  • Español (Spanish)
  • Esperanto (Esperanto)
  • 日本語 (Japanese)
  • Português (Portuguese)
  • Deutsch (German)
  • العربية (Arabic)
  • Français (French)
  • Русский (Russian)
  • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
  • 한국어 (Korean)
  • עברית (Hebrew)
  • Gaeilge (Irish)
  • Українська (Ukrainian)
  • اردو (Urdu)
  • Magyar (Hungarian)
  • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
  • Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Italiano (Italian)
  • தமிழ் (Tamil)
  • Türkçe (Turkish)
  • తెలుగు (Telugu)
  • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
  • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
  • Čeština (Czech)
  • Polski (Polish)
  • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Românește (Romanian)
  • Nederlands (Dutch)
  • Ελληνικά (Greek)
  • Latinum (Latin)
  • Svenska (Swedish)
  • Dansk (Danish)
  • Suomi (Finnish)
  • فارسی (Persian)
  • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
  • հայերեն (Armenian)
  • Norsk (Norwegian)
  • English (English)

Word of the Day

Would you like us to send you a FREE new word definition delivered to your inbox daily?

Please enter your email address:

Discuss these act definitions with the community:



    Use the citation below to add this definition to your bibliography:


    "act." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 6 Feb. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/act>.

    Are we missing a good definition for act? Don't keep it to yourself...

    Browse Definitions.net

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Chrome

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Firefox

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!


    Are you a words master?

    proceed or issue forth, as from a source
    • A. emanate
    • B. denudate
    • C. transpire
    • D. affront

    Nearby & related entries:

    Alternative searches for act: