American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. The state or process of acting or doing: The medical team went into action.
- n. Something done or accomplished; a deed. See Usage Note at act.
- n. Organized activity to accomplish an objective: a problem requiring drastic action.
- n. The causation of change by the exertion of power or a natural process: the action of waves on a beach; the action of a drug on blood pressure.
- n. A movement or a series of movements, as of an actor.
- n. Manner of movement: a horse with fine action.
- n. Habitual or vigorous activity; energy: a woman of action.
- n. Behavior or conduct. Often used in the plural.
- n. The operating parts of a mechanism.
- n. The manner in which such parts operate.
- n. The manner in which a musical instrument can be played; playability: a piano with quick action.
- n. The series of events and episodes that form the plot of a story or play.
- n. The appearance of animation of a figure in painting or sculpture.
- n. Law A judicial proceeding whose purpose is to obtain relief at the hands of a court.
- n. Armed encounter; combat: missing in action.
- n. An engagement between troops or ships: fought a rear-guard action.
- n. The most important or exciting work or activity in a specific field or area: always heads for where the action is.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. The process or state of acting or of being active, as opposed to rest; change of which the cause lies within the subject; activity; active exertion; energy manifested in outward acts, as contrasted with contemplation, speculation, speaking, or writing: as, a man of action.
- n. An event considered as predicated of its cause; an act, usually in a complex or an inclusive sense; that which is done about or in relation to anything; a specific performance, proceeding, or course of conduct: as, a good or a bad action; actions speak louder than words; the action of a deliberative body.
- n. An exertion of power or force; the real relation of a cause to its effect; causality; influence; agency; operation; impulse: as, the action of wind upon a ship's sails.
- n. Manner of moving; kind of motion or physical performance: as, this horse has fine action; the action of a machine.
- n. In rhetoric, gesture or gesticulation; the deportment of the speaker, or the accommodation of his attitude, voice, gestures, and countenance to the subject, or to the thoughts and feelings expressed.
- n. In poetry and the drama, the connected series of events on which the interest of the piece depends; the main subject or story, as distinguished from an incidental action or episode. Unity of action is one of the dramatic unities.
- n. In physiology: Any one of the active processes going on in an organized body; some manifestation of vital activity; the performance of a function: as, the action of the stomach or the gastric juice on the food; a morbid action of the liver.
- n. A more or less complex muscular effort. It may be voluntary, as the contractions of the voluntary muscles in response to the will; involuntary, as those of the heart; mixed, as those of respiration, deglutition, etc.; or reflex, as most involuntary actions, and also those performed by voluntary muscles under the influence of stimuli without involving conscious volition.
- n. In law: A proceeding instituted in court by one or more parties against another or others to enforce a right, or punish or redress a wrong: distinguished from judicial proceedings which are not controversial in form, as the probate of a will.
- n. Such a proceeding under the forms of the common law, as distinguished from a chancery suit and a criminal prosecution. But since the mėrger of law and equity, the remedy formerly had by suit in chancery is had by an equitable action. In the wider sense an action is civil or criminal: it is criminal when instituted by the sovereign for the punishment of a crime (see
criminal); civil when instituted by the sovereign power in its capacity as an owner or contracting party, or by a subject or citizen. A criminal action is frequently spoken of as an indictment, which, however, is only one kind of formal complaint by which such a proceeding may be commenced or presented for trial. A common-law action is real, personal, or mixed: real when it claims title to real estate; personal when it demands a chattel, a debt, damages for an injury, or a statutory penalty; and mixed when it demands both real estate and damages for a wrong. Actions are in personam or in rem: in personam when the party defendant is a natural person or a corporation; in rem when it is a thing the ownership of which it is sought to change or affect, as when it is sought to make damages for a collision at sea a lien on the guilty ship, or to confiscate smuggled property. Actions where, the defendant being out of the reach of the court, a judgment against him will bind only his property previously attached, and actions merely to determine the status of the parties, as for divorce, are also sometimes properly called actions in rem; for the property attached and the status, respectively, are in one sense the subjects of the action, and it is their presence which enables the court to exercise its jurisdiction as against persons absent. See also in personam, in rem.
- n. The right of bringing an action: as, the law gives an action for every claim.
- n. In the fine arts: The appearance of animation, movement, or passion given to figures by their attitude, position, or expression, either singly or concurrently.
- n. The event or episode represented or illustrated by a work of art.
- n. A military fight; a minor engagement between armed bodies of men, whether on land or water: of less importance than a battle. See battle.
- n. In machinery: The mechanism of a breech-loading gun by which it is opened to receive the charge.
- n. That part of the mechanism of a pianoforte, an organ, or other similar instrument by which the action of the fingers upon the keys is transmitted to the strings, reeds, etc. In a harp the action is a mechanism, controlled by pedals, by which the key is changed by a half or whole step.
- n. A share in the capital stock of a company; in the plural, stocks, or shares of stock.
- n. In firearms, when the locks are bedded into the stock alone. E. H. Knight.
- To bring a legal action against.
- n. In mech., the sum of the average momenta of the elements of a moving system, each multiplied by the distance through which it moves.
- n. In dynamo-electric machines, wasteful internal circuits in the pole-pieces or cores; eddy, parasitic, or Foucault currents.
- n. Something done so as to accomplish a purpose.
- n. A way of motion or functioning.
- n. A fast-paced activity.
- n. A mechanism; a moving part or assembly.
- n. slang sexual intercourse.
- n. The distance separating the strings and the fretboard on the guitar.
- n. military Combat.
- n. law A charge or other process in a law court (also called lawsuit and actio).
- n. mathematics A homomorphism from a group to a group of automorphisms.
- interj. Demanding or signifying the start of something, usually an act or scene of a theatric performance.
- v. transitive, management To act on a request etc, in order to put it into effect.
- v. transitive To initiate a legal action against someone.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. A process or condition of acting or moving, as opposed to rest; the doing of something; exertion of power or force, as when one body acts on another; the effect of power exerted on one body by another; agency; activity; operation.
- n. An act; a thing done; a deed; an enterprise. (pl.): Habitual deeds; hence, conduct; behavior; demeanor.
- n. The event or connected series of events, either real or imaginary, forming the subject of a play, poem, or other composition; the unfolding of the drama of events.
- n. Movement.
- n. (Mech.) Effective motion; also, mechanism.
- n. (Physiol.) Any one of the active processes going on in an organism; the performance of a function.
- n. (Orat.) Gesticulation; the external deportment of the speaker, or the suiting of his attitude, voice, gestures, and countenance, to the subject, or to the feelings.
- n. (Paint. & Sculp.) The attitude or position of the several parts of the body as expressive of the sentiment or passion depicted.
- n. A suit or process, by which a demand is made of a right in a court of justice; in a broad sense, a judicial proceeding for the enforcement or protection of a right, the redress or prevention of a wrong, or the punishment of a public offense.
- n. A right of action.
- n. (Com.), A Gallicism, obsolete A share in the capital stock of a joint-stock company, or in the public funds; hence, in the plural, equivalent to stocks.
- n. An engagement between troops in war, whether on land or water; a battle; a fight.
- n. (Music) The mechanical contrivance by means of which the impulse of the player's finger is transmitted to the strings of a pianoforte or to the valve of an organ pipe.
- v. put in effect
- n. the state of being active
- n. the trait of being active and energetic and forceful
- v. institute legal proceedings against; file a suit against
- n. a judicial proceeding brought by one party against another; one party prosecutes another for a wrong done or for protection of a right or for prevention of a wrong
- n. the most important or interesting work or activity in a specific area or field
- n. the operating part that transmits power to a mechanism
- n. a military engagement
- n. a process existing in or produced by nature (rather than by the intent of human beings)
- n. the series of events that form a plot
- n. something done (usually as opposed to something said)
- n. an act by a government body or supranational organization
- From Middle English accion, from Old French action, from Latin āctiō ("act of doing or making"), from āctus, perfect passive participle of agō ("do, act"), + action suffix -iō; see act. (Wiktionary)
“Since 'to know' is not an action and since reduplication expresses a resultant state from an *action* as outlined above, naturally there can be no reduplicated forms possible for these stative verbs.”
“In particular, if in the EPR/B experiment the L-apparatus pointer has a definite position before the L-measurement and the R-particle temporarily comes to possess definite position during the L-measurement, then the GRW/Pearle models involve action at a distance and thus also action* at a distance.”
“If, on scientific principles, it can be proved that those verbs generally denominated neuter, _originally_ expressed action, their present, accepted meaning will still oppose the theory, for the generality of mankind do not attach to them the idea of _action_.”
“These are known as _reflex action, voluntary action_, and”
“_Beautiful_, for instance, is said not only of a successful expression, but also of a scientific truth, of an action successfully achieved, and of a moral action: thus we talk of an _intellectual beauty_, of a _beautiful action_, of a _moral beauty_.”
“Just as in Aesthetic the individuality of expression made models and rules impossible, so in practical life the individuality of action removes the possibility of catalogues of virtues, of the exact application of laws, of the existence of practical judgments and judgments of value _previous to action_.”
“Study the pictures of Theodore Roosevelt and of Billy Sunday in action -- _action_ is the word.”
“Each being cuts up the material world according to the lines that its action must follow: it is these lines of _possible action_ that, by intercrossing, mark out the net of experience of which each mesh is a fact.”
“You may judge that my sphere of action -- speaking of _action_ in a literal sense -- was rather circumscribed at Gwinnett courthouse: but, the fact is, I was then but acquiring my education.”
“Our _action_ then should be, to _put ourselves_ into a position to suffer the action of God, and to allow the Word to retrace”
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