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From: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)

 Act n.
 1. That which is done or doing; the exercise of power, or the effect, of which power exerted is the cause; a performance; a deed.
 That best portion of a good man's life,
 His little, nameless, unremembered acts
 Of kindness and of love.   --Wordsworth.
 Hence, in specific uses: (a) The result of public deliberation; the decision or determination of a legislative body, council, court of justice, etc.; a decree, edit, law, judgment, resolve, award; as, an act of Parliament, or of Congress. (b) A formal solemn writing, expressing that something has been done. --Abbott. (c) A performance of part of a play; one of the principal divisions of a play or dramatic work in which a certain definite part of the action is completed. (d) A thesis maintained in public, in some English universities, by a candidate for a degree, or to show the proficiency of a student.
 2. A state of reality or real existence as opposed to a possibility or possible existence. [Obs.]
    The seeds of plants are not at first in act, but in possibility, what they afterward grow to be.   --Hooker.
 3. Process of doing; action. In act, in the very doing; on the point of (doing). In act to shoot.”
    This woman was taken . . . in the very act.   --John viii. 4.
 Act of attainder. Law See Attainder.
 Act of bankruptcy Law, an act of a debtor which renders him liable to be adjudged a bankrupt.
 Act of faith. Ch. Hist. See Auto-da-Fé.
 Act of God Law, an inevitable accident; such extraordinary interruption of the usual course of events as is not to be looked for in advance, and against which ordinary prudence could not guard.
 Act of grace, an expression often used to designate an act declaring pardon or amnesty to numerous offenders, as at the beginning of a new reign.
 Act of indemnity, a statute passed for the protection of those who have committed some illegal act subjecting them to penalties. --Abbott.
 Act in pais, a thing done out of court (anciently, in the country), and not a matter of record.
 Syn: -- See Action.