Date: 1300-1400
Language: Old French
Origin: Latin actio, from agere; ACT1


1 noun
ac‧tion1 S1 W1

doing something

[uncountable] the process of doing something, especially in order to achieve a particular thingCOLLOCATIONS COLLOCATIONS
take action (=do something to deal with a problem) course/plan of action (=something that you plan to do in order to achieve something) tough/firm/decisive action drastic action (=action that has a very severe effect) demand/call for action put your ideas/plans etc into action (=do what you had planned to do) spring/swing into action (=start doing something immediately) military action (=a military attack) industrial action (=a strike or other protest at work) no further action is needed/required/called for (=it is not necessary to do anything else)
The government must take action now to stop the rise in violent crime.
What do you think is our best course of action?
They met to discuss a plan of action.
action on
Environmental groups want tougher action on pollution from cars.
Firm action is needed to keep the situation from getting out of control.
Business leaders demanded immediate and decisive action to end the dispute.
The situation called for drastic action.
She was looking forward to putting her ideas into action.
Ambulance crews are ready to spring into action if anything goes wrong during the race.
The United States threatened military action against Iraq.
Teachers have voted in favour of industrial action.
The doctor says that if the results are negative, no further action is required.

something done

[countable] something that someone does
quick/swift/prompt action
Her prompt actions probably saved my life.
The child could not be held responsible for his actions (=he was too young to be blamed for them).
defend/justify your action(s)
The chief of police tried to justify his actions.

in action

someone or something that is in action is doing the job or activity they are trained or designed to do:
photos of ski jumpers in action
see/watch something/somebody in action
I'd like see the new computer system in action.

out of action

a) broken and not working:
The photocopier is out of action again.
b) injured and unable to do anything
put/keep something out of action
The injury will keep him out of action for a month.


[uncountable] fighting during a war:
There have been reports of widespread enemy action in the area.
killed/wounded in action (=killed or wounded while fighting)
His father was killed in action in Vietnam.
530 servicemen were reported missing in action (=they had disappeared).
The men were sent into action with little or no training.
He had seen action (=been involved in fighting) in Korea.


[uncountable and countable] a legal or formal process to decide whether someone has done something wrong:
They are threatening to take legal action against the hospital (=start a court case against them).
The director faces disciplinary action (=official action to punish him).
The matter is now the subject of a court action (=a court case).
The students agreed to drop their action (=decide not to continue with a court case or an official complaint).
The sisters brought a libel action against the newspaper (=started a court case).


a) informal exciting things that are happening:
There hasn't been much action around here for months.
b) an action film has a lot of exciting scenes in it, in which people fight, chase, and kill each other:
Gibson became famous in action movies.

the events in a story/film etc

the action

the events in a story, film, play etc:
Most of the action takes place in San Francisco.
The action opens (=starts) in a barber shop.


[uncountable and countable] the way something moves or works
action of
the action of the heart
a smooth braking action


[uncountable] the effect that a substance, especially a chemical, has on something
action of
The drug blocks the action of the cancer gene.
action on/upon
the action of alcohol on the liver

action group/committee etc

SSO a group formed to change a social or political situation - often used in names:
the Child Poverty Action Group

a piece/slice of the action

informal an opportunity to be involved in an event or activity, especially one that will be enjoyable or will make money:
If you want a slice of the action, tickets may still be available.

actions speak louder than words

used to say that you are judged by what you do, and not by what you say


AMF used by film directors to give the instruction to begin filming:
Lights, camera, action!

Dictionary results for "action"
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