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:
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.
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.
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 for, to do the work of; to serve as.