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Action, 1) the state or manner of being active, activity: “the expense of spirit in a waste of shame is lust in a.” Sonn. 129, 2. “the rarer a. is in virtue than in vengeance,” Tp. V, 27. “more reasons for this a. shall I render you,” Meas. I, 3, 48. “strong reasons make strong --s,” John III, 4, 182. “imitate the a. of the tiger,” H5 III, 1, 6. “a gentle business, and becoming the a. of good women,” H8 II, 3, 55. “holding them, in human a. and capacity, of no more soul than camels,” Cor. II, 1, 265. “vice sometimes by a. dignified,” Rom. II, 3, 22. “be what it is, the a. of my life is like it,” Cymb. V, 4, 150. Particularly when activity is attended by exertion: “divide the a. of their bodies from their souls,” H4B I, 1, 195. “the man of a.” II, 4, 406 (the active, 'deed-achieving' man). “they have used their dearest a. in the tented field,” Oth. I, 3, 85. to lock it (life) “from a. and adventure,” Cymb. IV, 4, 3. Especially warlike occupation: “in hand and hope of a.” Meas. I, 4, 52. “a., hence borne out, may waste the memory of the former days,” H4B IV, 5, 215. H5 I, 2, 114. IV, 2, 27. Cor. I, 3, 28. IV, 3, 53. Cymb. III, 7, 2. H4B I, 3, 37.
2) exertion, manifestation of vigour, strong exercise: “beauty, whose a. is no stronger than a flower,” Sonn. 65, 4. “motion and long-during a. tires the traveller,” LLL IV, 3, 307. “do not fret yourself too much in the a.” Mids. IV, 1, 14. “a man no mightier than thyself or me in personal a.” Caes. I, 3, 77. “the violence of a. hath made you reek,” Cymb. I, 2, 2. “why hast thou abused . . . mine a. and thine own?” III, 4, 107. “they with continual a. are as good as rotten,” Per. IV, 2, 9.
3) the thing done, deed: “his --s show much like to madness,” Meas. IV, 4, 4. As II, 4, 30. IV, 1, 141. Alls IV, 3, 28. Wint. III, 2, 30. Wint. III, 2, 30 John IV, 3, 58. V, 2, 67. H8 IV, 2, 70. Cor. II, 2, 33. Mcb. IV, 2, 3. Oth. I, 2, 98. II, 3, 146 etc.
4) enterprise: “what dangerous a. would I not undergo!” Gent. V, 4, 41. “in what particular a. to try him,” Alls III, 6, 18. Especially a warlike enterprise: “when you went onward on this ended a.” Ado I, 1, 299. John II, 233. III, 4, 14. V, 2, 99. H4A II, 3, 23. H4A II, 3, 23 III, 3, 2. H4B I, 1, 177. IV, 1, 172. Troil. II, 3, 140. Troil. II, 3, 140 Cor. I, 1, 283. II, 1, 150. IV, 7, 5. Ant. III, 7, 69* etc. Jestingly used of a feat of drinking: H4A II, 4, 23.
5) a fight, in battle as well as in single combat: “how many gentlemen have you lost in this a.?” Ado I, 1, 6. H6B V, 2, 26. Troil. IV, 5, 113.
6) theatrical representation: “we will do it in a. as we will do it before the duke,” Mids. III, 1, 5. I nill relate, a. may the rest convey, Per. III Prol. 55. V Prol. 23. Similarly the sight offered to the spectator of a pageant, in contradistinction to a mere recital: “the tract of every thing would by a good discourser lose some life, which --'s self was tongue to,” H8 I, 1, 42.
7) gesticulation, the motions of the body accompanying words spoken or the feelings of the mind: “making such sober a. with his hand,” Lucr. 1403. 1433 (quibbling in 1323). Wiv. I, 3, 50. IV, 5, 121. Meas. IV, 1, 40. LLL V, 2, 99. As IV, 3, 9. Shr. Ind. 1, 110. Shr. Ind. 1, 110. Tw. I, 5, 311. Wint. V, 3, 104. John IV, 2, 191. H6B V, 1, 8. R3 I, 3, 66. Troil. I, 3, 149. Cor. III, 2, 76. Cor. III, 2, 76 Tit. III, 2, 40. V, 2, 18. Caes. III, 2, 226. Mcb. V, 1, 32. Hml. I, 2, 84. I, 4, 60. II, 2, 318. III, 2, 19. Oth. I, 1, 61. Ant. III, 12, 35. Cymb. II, 4, 102.
8) a law-suit: “a. of battery,” Meas. II, 1, 187; Tw. IV, 1, 36; Hml. V, 1, 111. “a. of slander,” Meas. II, 1, 190. “I'll bring mine a. on the proudest he,” Shr. III, 2, 236. “upon some a.” Tw. V, 282. “this a. I now go on,” Wint. II, 1, 121. “have you entered the a.?” H4B II, 1, 2. “draw the a.” H4B II, 1, 2 “four terms or two --s,” V, 1, 90. “though our proper son stood in your a.” Oth. I, 3, 70. “let not a leaner a. rend us,” Ant. II, 2, 19 (a moot-point of less consequence). “make it an a.” Cymb. II, 3, 156.
Trisyll. in the middle of the verse in Oth. II, 3, 146.
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