Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A person who behaves in the manner of a character, usually by reciting scripted dialogue, in order to entertain an audience, especially in a play, movie, or television show.
  • noun One who takes part; a participant.
  • noun One, such as the manager of a business, who acts for another.
  • noun In civil law, the plaintiff in an action.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun One who acts or performs; the doer or performer of an action; specifically, one who represents a character or acts a part in a play; a stage-player.
  • noun In law: An advocate or a proctor in civil courts or causes.
  • noun A plaintiff.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun One who acts, or takes part in any affair; a doer.
  • noun A theatrical performer; a stageplayer.
  • noun An advocate or proctor in civil courts or causes.
  • noun One who institutes a suit; plaintiff or complainant.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A person who performs in a theatrical play or film.
  • noun One who acts; a doer.
  • noun One who takes part in a situation.
  • noun law An advocate or proctor in civil courts or causes.
  • noun law One who institutes a suit; plaintiff or complainant.
  • noun One who enacts a certain policy action.
  • noun software engineering The entity that performs a role (in use case analysis).

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a person who acts and gets things done
  • noun a theatrical performer

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English actour, doer, probably from Latin āctor, from āctus, past participle of agere, to drive, do; see ag- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin āctor ("doer"), from agere ("to do"). Cognate with Ancient Greek ἄκτωρ (aktōr, "leader"), from ἄγω (agō, "lead, carry, convey, bring").

Examples

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  • Used to be only men. Now actress is going the way of thou and thee.

    December 19, 2017