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Related to acting: Method acting
act (up)on (something)
1. To take action in a situation. The report is due tomorrow, so I need you to act on it immediately. Please act upon this subpoena for records at once.
2. To take action that is strongly influenced by certain information or advice. ("Upon" is most commonly used to convey this meaning.) Acting upon my doctor's orders, I cleared my schedule and spent the week recuperating at home. A; "I can't believe he said that about us!" B: "Well, he's probably just acting on his mother's instruction, and that woman hates us."
3. To impact or affect someone or something in some way. The barking dogs next door are acting on my patience.
To serve or perform a job or role, often temporarily. Until Kayla returns from her maternity leave, Sharon will act as lead analyst. You will now act as file clerk and benefits coordinator, and your salary will reflect this change.
1. To be a representative for someone else. Because I have power of attorney for my mother, I can act for her in legal and financial matters when she is no longer able to do so.
2. To perform a job or role in place of the person that usually does it. Yes, Kayla usually leads this project, but I am acting for her while she is on maternity leave.
act on instinct
To do something because one is motivated by a powerful internal impulse. Before I knew what I was doing, I hit the attacker in the face and ran. I just acted on instinct, I guess. If you don't trust someone, get out of that situation immediately. Act on instinct to keep yourself safe.
1. To behave poorly or inappropriately, especially considering one's age. My son is always so happy at home, so I can't understand why he's suddenly acting out at school. You're in middle school now, so if you act out in class, you will be sent to the principal's office.
2. To perform a role, often an imaginary one (as in a play). Jennifer did a superb job acting out the role of Auntie Mary in the play. I don't want to upset my mom during the holidays, so I am acting out the part of dutiful daughter.
3. To express one's negative feelings, usually to another person. I got tired of Mark constantly acting out his anger out on me, so I ended our relationship.
4. To communicate through actions or gestures instead of words. Henry was suffering from a severe case of laryngitis and had lost his voice, so he had to act out his thoughts during the meeting. There's no talking in this game—you have to act out the movie you're assigned, and we will try to guess it.
act shoulder to shoulder
To act together, side by side, in cooperation of a shared goal or purpose. If we all act shoulder to shoulder, there's a chance we'll be able to get this legislation repealed.
act the fool
1. To behave comically or playfully, often to amuse others. If you continue to act the fool, you're going to have to leave the classroom. Joe never acts the fool—he's always serious.
2. To behave irresponsibly or immaturely, especially in an environment where it is especially inappropriate. Don't let me catch any of you kids acting the fool at the museum—it's a privilege to even go inside. We finally get invited to a nice dinner party and you have to go and act the fool—what's wrong with you?
act the goat
To behave comically or playfully, often to amuse others. Joe never acts the goat—he's always serious. If you continue to act the goat, you're going to have to leave the classroom.
act the maggot
slang Primarily heard in Ireland.
1. To behave comically or playfully, often to amuse others. Primarily heard in Ireland. If you continue to act the maggot, you're going to have to leave the classroom. Joe never acts the maggot—he's always so serious.
2. To behave irresponsibly or immaturely, especially in an environment where it is especially inappropriate. Primarily heard in Ireland. Don't let me catch any of you kids acting the maggot at the funeral. We finally get invited to a nice dinner party and you have to go and act the maggot—what's wrong with you?
1. Of a person, to behave poorly or inappropriately. If you act up in class, you will be sent to the principal's office.
2. Of a thing, to malfunction or operate incorrectly. My car's transmission started acting up during my commute to work. My phone acted up again this morning; I think I need to take it to a professional.
3. Of a medical condition, to become problematic or troublesome, usually after a period of remission. Jake played football with his friends today, and now his old knee injury is acting up. It's springtime, so of course my allergies are acting up again.
act up to (something)
To act in a manner that equals or fulfills what has been promised, suggested, or expected of someone or something. So far, the politician has not acted up to the promises made during her election campaign. He never shies away from doling out advice, but he rarely acts up to his own prescribed codes of conduct.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
act as someone
to perform in the capacity of someone, temporarily or permanently; to serve in some special capacity, possibly temporarily. This is Mr. Smith. He'll act as manager from now on.
act for someone
1. to represent someone in an official capacity; to represent the interests of someone. Don't worry. I am acting for the owner. I am his real estate agent.
2. to take action when the proper person fails to take action. I had to act for her since she was out of town.
to behave badly. (Usually used to describe young people.) Your son has been acting out in the classroom, and his teacher feels that professional intervention is desirable.
act something out
1. to perform in real life a role that one has imagined in a fantasy. When I was onstage, I was really acting an old fantasy out. I acted out an old fantasy onstage.
2. to convert one's bad feelings into action rather than words. Don't act your aggressions out on me! She acted out her aggression.
3. to demonstrate or communicate something through gestures or action rather than words. Act your request out, if you can't say it. She had a sore throat and had to act out her request.
[for a thing or a person] to behave badly. This car is acting up again.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
1. Perform or portray something or someone, as in As she read to the class, the teacher had each child act out a different character in the story . [c. 1600]
2. Express unconscious feelings or impulses through one's behavior, without being aware of it. For example, She acted out her anger at her father by screaming at her husband. This meaning comes from 20th-century psychological theory and usually (but not always) refers to negative or hostile impulses and emotions. The term is sometimes used without an object to mean "misbehave" or "behave disruptively," as in The child is acting out in class. [First half of 1900s] In both usages, out means "openly" or "publicly."
1. Misbehave. For example, With an inexperienced rider, this horse always acts up. [c. 1900]
2. Malfunction, as in I'm not sure what's wrong with my car, but the transmission is acting up. In both usages up means "abnormally."
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
act the goatBRITISH, INFORMAL, OLD-FASHIONED
If someone acts the goat, they behave in a silly way. A bunch of football fans were acting the goat and we moved to get away from them. Note: Goats are often associated with unpredictable behaviour.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
act the maggotbehave in a foolishly playful way. Irish informal
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
1. To communicate something through actions rather than words: In a game of charades, you describe words by acting them out. One comedian acted out simple phrases, and the other one tried to guess what they were.
2. To play some role: The first graders acted out the roles of the villagers in the school play.
3. To fulfill some role: Though they no longer trusted him, they continued to act out their parts as good wife and daughter.
4. To express some feeling or emotion behaviorally, especially unconsciously: I understand why you're angry, but I don't like the way you're acting out your aggression toward me.
5. To demonstrate bad behavior or negative feelings: The student was upset after losing the game and began to act out in class.
1. To misbehave: The driver stopped the school bus because the kids were acting up.
2. To cause problems by operating strangely or unexpectedly: The thermostat suddenly started acting up, and now it's always too hot or too cold in here.
3. To become active or troublesome after a period of operating normally: My knee starts acting up when the weather is cold.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.