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act out

If a child misbehaves as a result of repressed feelings, that behavior may be called acting out. Adults sometimes behave the same way, but then it’s not called acting out. Instead, it’s called being an asshole.

In addition, when studying a book, student’s may be asked to act out the action rather than just read it. Again, it’s usually just children who are asked to do this. Adults aren’t usually subjected to such embarrassment. If the students aren’t happy about it, they might not say so directly. Instead, their frustration might result in them acting out in the sense I mentioned in the previous paragraph.

Adults might also act out the scenes in a book, but then it’s often referred to as acting rather than acting out. This is because adults tend to be lazy—some would say efficient or concise, but they’re just apologists for adults. We don’t want to throw in the word out when it’s not necessary. Instead, we like to foist that ridiculous, garrulous language on kids to show them who’s boss.

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