A Dictionary of the English Language
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Act (verb)

View Scan · View Transcription · from pages 76, 77

View Scan · View Transcription · from pages 76, 77

To Act. v.a. [ago, actum, Lat.]

  1. To be in action, not to rest.

    He hangs between in doubt to act or rest. Pope's Ess. on Man.

  2. To perform the proper functions.

    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. South's Sermons.

  3. To practise the arts or duties of life; to conduct one's self.

    '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.
    Dryden's 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. 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. Atterbury's 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. Roger's Sermons.

  4. To bear a borrowed character, as, a stage-player.

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

  5. To counterfeit; to feign by action.

    His former trembling once again renew'd,
    With acted fear the villain thus pursu'd.
    Dryd. Æneid. 2.

  6. To produce effects in some passive subject.

    Hence 'tis we wait the wond'rous cause to find
    How body acts upon impassive mind.
    Garth's 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. Arbuthnot on Aliments.

  7. To actuate; to put in motion; to regulate the movements.

    Most people in the world are acted by levity and humour, by strange and irrational changes. South's 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. Idem.

    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. Locke.

Sources: Arbuthnot, John (227) · Atterbury, Francis (75) · Dryden, John (788) · Garth, Samuel (17) · Locke, John (269) · Pope, Alexander (393) · Rogers, John (38) · South, Robert (158)

Attributes: Latin (690) · Verb Active (289)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Act (verb)." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: February 1, 2014. http://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/?p=9449.


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