action - definition and synonyms


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  1. 1
    [uncountable] the process of doing something, especially in order to stop a bad situation from developing or continuing

    Officials are not planning any drastic action.

    take action (=begin to do something to solve a particular problem):

    We urge the authorities to take action.

    course of action (=something that you do in order to achieve a particular purpose):

    We have three possible courses of action.

    1. a.
      [countable/uncountable] the process of stopping work or working less effectively in order to protest about your pay, working conditions etc. This kind of action is also called industrial action

      The strikers voted to suspend their action.

    2. b.
      [countable/uncountable] the process of bringing a case to a court of law. This kind of action is also called legal action
      bring an action (against someone) (=start a legal process against someone):

      The magazine will fight the libel action brought by the Prime Minister.

  2. 2
    [countable] something you do, especially something that seems wrong or unusual to other people

    How can you justify your actions?

  3. 3
    [countable/uncountable] a movement that you make with your body

    She found herself copying his actions.

    1. a.
      [countable/uncountable] a movement that goes with a children’s song

      I’ll sing and you can do the actions.

    2. b.
      [singular/uncountable] the movement of an object as it works or makes progress, especially a particular kind of movement
      action of:

      This switch slows down the action of the pump.

      the erosive action of a great glacier

  4. 4
    [singular/uncountable] the effect that something such as a drug or chemical has
    the action of something (on something):

    the action of certain chemicals on the brain

  5. 5
    [uncountable] fighting that is part of a war

    Can military action be avoided?

    killed/missing/wounded in action:

    a list of soldiers missing in action

    see action (=take part in military fighting):

    We’ve been told we’re unlikely to see action.

  6. 6
    [singular/uncountable] informal all the exciting or important events that happen in a particular situation or place

    Where’s all the action in this town?

  7. 7
    [singular] the events that form part of a play or film

    In Scene 1, the action takes place in an expensive restaurant.