act


act
\ \ [14] Act, action, active, actor all go back to Latin ageredo, perform’ (which is the source of a host of other English derivatives, from agent to prodigal). The past participle of this verb was āctus, from which we get act, partly through French acte, but in the main directly from Latin.
\ \ The Latin agent noun, āctor, came into the language at about the same time, although at first it remained a rather uncommon word in English, with technical legal uses; it was not until the end of the 16th century that it came into its own in the theatre (player had hitherto been the usual term).
\ \ Other Latin derivatives of the past participial stem āct- were the noun āctiō, which entered English via Old French action, and the adjective āctīvus, which gave English active. See also ACTUAL.
\ \ Cf.ACTION, ACTIVE, AGENT, COGENT, EXAMINE, PRODIGAL

Word origins - 2ed. . 2005.

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