Definition of actor in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈaktə/


1A person whose profession is acting on the stage, in films, or on television.
Example sentences
  • Fincher usually gets great performances from his actors, and this film was no different.
  • We tend to see film and television actors through all of their previous performances.
  • This is not uncommon in Allen's films - actors love working with him and he always gets the best out of them.
performer, player, trouper, theatrical, dramatic artist, thespian, member of the cast, artist, artiste;
Indian  filmi
British informal luvvy
archaic histrionic, stager
1.1A person who behaves in a way that is not genuine: in war one must be a good actor
More example sentences
  • Certainly, there are bad actors in business, as everywhere.
  • He went back into hiding, the shrunken, self-parodying actor within the huge carcass of a body.
2A participant in an action or process: employers are key actors within industrial relations
More example sentences
  • It will identify the processes and the key actors and how can they be better understood and planned by city authorities.
  • Interaction: a cyclic process in which two actors alternately listen, think and speak.
  • Both approaches allow little room for the role of factors that might be specific to particular actors.


In the time of Shakespeare female roles were played by boys or men, and women did not appear on stage in England until after the Restoration of 1660. Female performers were then called either actors or actresses—it was only later that actor became restricted to men—and it seems that we are returning to the original situation. Although there is still an awards category at the Oscars called Best Actress, some people are again using the gender-neutral term actor for both sexes. See also -ess1 (usage).



Example sentences
  • The abbot, Dom Christopher, combines an actorish voice and looks with a kind of brain that has recently been more or less banned from television.
  • Ask a few actorish questions about creativity and motivation and he bats them back with a quip about needing the money.
  • He gives a remarkable performance, which has been criticised for being too actorish, and yet manages to make a dull man interesting, without falling back on self pity.


Late Middle English (originally denoting an agent or administrator): from Latin, 'doer, actor', from agere 'do, act'.

  • An actor was originally simply ‘a doer’, usually an agent or an administrator; the theatrical sense dates from the 16th century. Like act (Late Middle English) it comes from Latin actus ‘thing done’, which comes from agere ‘to do, drive’. This is the basis of other English words such as agenda (early 17th century) ‘things to be done’; agent (Late Middle English) ‘someone or thing who does things’; agile (Late Middle English) ‘able to do things’; agitate (Late Middle English) originally meaning ‘drive away’; ambiguous (early 16th century) ‘drive in both ways’, a word, which appears to have been coined by the English scholar and statesman Sir Thomas More (1478–1535), originally in the sense ‘indistinct, obscure’; transaction (Late Middle English) ‘something driven across or through’ and many more. Actuality (Late Middle English) originally had the sense ‘activity’; from Old French actualite from actualis ‘active, practical’. The modern French word actualité (usually meaning ‘news’) is sometimes used in English to mean ‘truth’, a sense not found in French as in: ‘When asked why the company had not been advised to include the potential military use, he [Alan Clark] said it was our old friend economical…with the actualité’ (Independent 10 November 1992).

Words that rhyme with actor

abstractor, attractor, compactor, contractor, enactor, exactor, extractor, factor, infractor, protractor, redactor, refractor, tractor, transactor

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: actor

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