/akt/ , n.
1. anything done, being done, or to be done; deed; performance: a heroic act.
2. the process of doing: caught in the act.
3. a formal decision, law, or the like, by a legislature, ruler, court, or other authority; decree or edict; statute; judgment, resolve, or award: an act of Congress.
4. an instrument or document stating something done or transacted.
5. one of the main divisions of a play or opera: the second act of Hamlet.
6. a short performance by one or more entertainers, usually part of a variety show or radio or television program.
7. the personnel of such a group: The act broke up after 30 years.
8. false show; pretense; feint: The politician's pious remarks were all an act.
9. Philos. (in scholasticism)
a. activity in process; operation.
b. the principle or power of operation.
c. form as determining essence.
d. a state of realization, as opposed to potentiality.
10. clean up one's act , Informal. to begin adhering to more acceptable practices, rules of behavior, etc.: The factory must clean up its act and treat its employees better.
11. get or have one's act together , Informal. to organize one's time, job, resources, etc., so as to function efficiently: The new administration is still getting its act together.
12. to do something; exert energy or force; be employed or operative: He acted promptly in the emergency.
13. to reach, make, or issue a decision on some matter: I am required to act before noon tomorrow.
14. to operate or function in a particular way; perform specific duties or functions: to act as manager.
15. to produce an effect; perform a function: The medicine failed to act.
16. to behave or conduct oneself in a particular fashion: to act well under all conditions.
17. to pretend; feign: Act interested even if you're bored.
18. to perform as an actor: He acted in three plays by Molière.
19. to be capable of being performed: His plays don't act well.
20. to serve or substitute (usually fol. by for ): In my absence the assistant manager will act for me.
21. to represent (a fictitious or historical character) with one's person: to act Macbeth.
22. to feign; counterfeit: to act outraged virtue.
23. to behave as: He acted the fool.
24. Obs. to actuate.
25. act funny , to display eccentric or suspicious behavior.
26. act on or upon ,
a. to act in accordance with; follow: He acted on my advice.
b. to have an effect on; affect: The stirring music acted on the emotions of the audience.
27. act one's age , to behave in a manner appropriate to one's maturity: We children enjoyed our uncle because he didn't always act his age.
28. act out ,
a. to demonstrate or illustrate by pantomime or by words and gestures: The party guests acted out stories for one another.
b. Psychol. to give overt expression to (repressed emotions or impulses) without insightful understanding: The patients acted out early traumas by getting angry with the analyst.
29. act up ,
a. to fail to function properly; malfunction: The vacuum cleaner is acting up again.
b. to behave willfully: The children always act up in school the day before a holiday.
c. to become painful or troublesome, esp. after a period of improvement or remission: My arthritis is acting up again this morning.
[ 1350-1400; ME act ( e ) ( acta, pl. of ACTUM something done, n. use of ptp. of agere to do ( ag- ptp. s. + -tum neut. ptp. suffix); and directly actus a doing ( ag- + -tus suffix of v. action) ]
Syn. 1. feat, exploit; achievement; transaction; accomplishment. See action. 4. record. 6. turn, routine. 11-15 . perform, function, work. 17, 18 . play.