act out

Charles Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Tue Mar 2 14:14:45 UTC 2010

I'm wondering if the "popular" use of "act out" is more prevelant in some regions than others. I have heard it all my life--but I have also heard "show out" all my life; I was grown before I realized that "show off" is the more common expression in places where I am not.


---- Original message ----
>Date: Tue, 2 Mar 2010 08:51:00 -0500
>From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> (on behalf of Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>)
>Not in OED (if you can believe it).  It's been in popular as well as
>psychological use for decades.
>But never mind that.  In discussing the recent incident at SeaWorld, an
>animal expert on CNN talked about the likelihood that any captive killer
>whale could begin to "act out" at any time.
>Just how an animal might "act out" in human psychological terms I don't
>know. I suppose I would have said, "revert to type," "become enraged," "harm
>its trainer," "turn," etc., long before it would have occurred to me to say
>"act out."
>"Act up," of course, is far too mild to adequately cover what happened.

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