Synonyms of act in English:


See definition of act


1‘the Government must act to remedy the situation’


take action, take steps, take measures, take the initiative, move, make a move, react, do something, proceed, go ahead

make progress, make headway, be active, be employed, be busy

informal get moving


do nothing

2‘over dinner Alison began to act oddly’


behave, function, react, perform

conduct oneself, acquit oneself, bear oneself

rare comport oneself, deport oneself

3‘the scents act as a powerful aphrodisiac’


operate, work, take effect, function, serve, be efficacious

4‘he acted in a highly successful film’


perform, play, play a part, take part, be an actor, be an actress, be one of the cast, appear

informal tread the boards

5‘we laughed, but most of us were just acting’


pretend, play-act, sham, fake, feign, put it on, bluff, pose, posture, masquerade, dissemble, dissimulate

informal kid


1‘a life filled with acts of kindness’


deed, action, gesture, feat, exploit, move, performance, undertaking, manoeuvre, stunt, operation, venture, effort, enterprise, achievement, accomplishment

2‘the Act raised the tax on tobacco’


law, decree, statute, bill, Act of Parliament, edict, fiat, dictum, dictate, enactment, resolution, ruling, rule, judgement, canon, ordinance, proclamation, command, commandment, mandate, measure, stipulation, direction, requirement




3‘I have written one act of a play’


division, section, subsection, portion, part, segment, component, bit

passage, episode, chapter

4‘a marvellous music hall act’


performance, turn, routine, number, item, piece, sketch, skit, playlet, dance, song

show, production, presentation, entertainment

informal gig

5‘my mother thinks crying is simply putting on an act’


pretence, false display, show, front, facade, masquerade, charade, guise, posture, pose, affectation, appearance

sham, fake, bluff, hoax

make-believe, play-acting, feigning, shamming, posturing, posing, counterfeit, subterfuge, dissimulation, dissemblance, fabrication, falsification

informal a put-on, a put-up job


    act for

      ‘the estate agent was acting for a prospective buyer’


      represent, act on behalf of, speak on behalf of

      stand in for, fill in for, deputize for, cover for, substitute for, be a substitute for, replace, take the place of, act in place of, be a locum for, do a locum for, sit in for, understudy

      hold the fort, step into the breach


      sub for, fill someone's boots, fill someone's shoes

      North American informal

      pinch-hit for

    act on/upon

      1‘the drug acted directly on the blood vessels’


      affect, have an effect on, influence, exert influence on, work on, have an impact on, impact on, alter, change, modify, transform, condition, control


      have no effect on

      2‘he was merely acting on the orders of the party leader’


      comply with, act in accordance with, follow, go along with

      obey, take heed of, heed, conform to, abide by, adhere to, stick to, stand by, uphold, fulfil, meet, discharge



    act up

      1‘the pupils are past masters at acting up in class’


      misbehave, give someone trouble, cause someone trouble, act badly, get up to mischief, get up to no good, be bad, be naughty, forget oneself, misconduct oneself

      clown about, clown around, fool about, fool around, act the clown, act the fool, act the goat, act foolishly


      carry on, mess about, mess around

      British informal

      muck about, muck around, play up

      2‘the computers are always acting up’


      malfunction, crash, develop a fault, go wrong, break down, give out, stall, be defective, be faulty, fail, cease to function, cease to work, stop working


      conk out, go kaput, go phut, go on the blink, be on the blink

      British informal

      pack up, play up