Etymology
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Words related to *ag-

act (n.)

late 14c., "a thing done," from Latin actus "a doing; a driving, impulse, a setting in motion; a part in a play," and actum "a thing done" (originally a legal term), both from agere "to set in motion, drive, drive forward," hence "to do, perform," figuratively "incite to action; keep in movement, stir up" (from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move").

The verb agere had a broad range of meaning in Latin, including "act on stage, play the part of; plead a cause at law; chase; carry off, steal." The theatrical ("part of a play," 1510s) and legislative (early 15c.) senses of the noun also were in Latin.

The meaning "one of a series of performances in a variety show" is from 1890. The meaning "display of exaggerated behavior" is from 1928, extended from the theatrical sense. In the act "in the process" is from 1590s, perhaps originally from a late 16c. sense of the act as "sexual intercourse." Act of God "uncontrollable natural force" is recorded by 1726.

An act of God is an accident which arises from a cause which operates without interference or aid from man (1 Pars. on Cont. 635); the loss arising wherefrom cannot be guarded against by the ordinary exertions of human skill and prudence so as to prevent its effect. [William Wait, "General Principles of the Law," Albany, 1879]

To get into the act "participate" is from 1947; to get (one's) act together "organize one's (disorderly) life" is by 1976, perhaps euphemistic.

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action (n.)

mid-14c., accioun, "cause or grounds for a lawsuit," from Anglo-French accioun, Old French accion, action (12c.) "action; lawsuit, case," from Latin actionem (nominative actio) "a putting in motion; a performing, a doing; public acts, official conduct; lawsuit, legal action" (source also of Spanish accion, Italian azione), noun of action from past-participle stem of agere "to do" (from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move").

Spelling with the restored Latin -t- begins in 15c. The meaning "active exertion, activity" is from late 14c. The sense of "something done, an act, deed" is late 14c. The meaning "military fighting" is from 1590s. The meaning "way in which (a firearm, etc.) acts" is from 1845. As a film director's command, it is attested from 1923.

The meaning "noteworthy or important activity" in a modern sense by 1933, as in the figurative phrase a piece of the action (by 1965), perhaps from a sense of action in card-playing jargon attested by 1914.

No "action" can be had on a bet until the card bet upon appears. If it does not appear after a turn has been made, the player is at liberty to change his bet, or to remove it altogether. Each bet is made for the turn only, unless the player chooses to leave it until he gets some action on it. [from "Faro" in "Hoyle's Games," A.L. Burt Company, New York: 1914]

But there are uses of action as far back as c. 1600 that seem to mean "noteworthy activity." The meaning "excitement" is recorded from 1968. In action "in a condition of effective operation" is from 1650s. Phrase actions speak louder than words is attested from 1731. Action-packed is attested from 1953, originally of movies.

active (adj.)

mid-14c., actif, active, "given to worldly activity" (opposed to contemplative or monastic), from Old French actif (12c.) and directly from Latin activus, from actus "a doing" (from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move").

As "capable of acting" (opposed to passive), from late 14c. Meaning "energetic, lively" is from 1590s; that of "working, effective, in operation" (opposed to inactive) is from 1640s. The grammatical active voice is recorded from 1765; grammatical use of active, signifying performance and not endurance of an action, dates from mid-15c. (opposed to passive or reflexive).

actor (n.)

late 14c., "an overseer, guardian, steward," from Latin actor "an agent or doer; a driver (of sheep, etc.)," in law, "accuser, plaintiff," also "theatrical player, orator," from past-participle stem of agere "to set in motion, drive, drive forward," hence "to do, perform," also "act on stage, play the part of; plead a cause at law" (from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move"). In English from mid-15c. as "a doer, maker," also "a plaintiff at law." The sense of "one who performs in plays" is by 1580s, originally applied to both men and women. Related: Actorish; actorly; actory.

actual (adj.)
early 14c., "pertaining to acts or an action;" late 14c. in the broader sense of "real, existing" (as opposed to potential, ideal, etc.); from Old French actuel "now existing, up to date" (13c.), from Late Latin actualis "active, pertaining to action," adjectival form of Latin actus "a doing" (from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move").
actuary (n.)
1550s, "registrar, clerk," from Medieval Latin actuarius "copyist, account-keeper, short-hand writer," from Latin actus in the specialized sense "public business" (literally "a doing;" from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move"). Meaning "person skilled in the calculation of chances and costs," especially as employed by an insurer, is from 1849.
actuate (v.)

1590s, "perform" (a sense now obsolete), from Medieval Latin actuatus, past participle of actuare "perform, put into action," from Latin actus "a doing" (from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move"). The sense of "put into action, inspire with activity" is from 1640s. Related: Actuated; actuating.

agency (n.)

1650s, "active operation;" 1670s, "a mode of exerting power or producing effect," from Medieval Latin agentia, abstract noun from Latin agentem (nominative agens) "effective, powerful," present participle of agere "to set in motion, drive forward; to do, perform," figuratively "incite to action; keep in movement" (from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move"). The meaning "establishment where business is done for another" is recorded by 1861.

agenda (n.)

1650s, originally theological, "matters of practice," as opposed to credenda "things to be believed, matters of faith," from Latin agenda, literally "things to be done," neuter plural of agendus, gerundive of agere "to do" (from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move").

The modern sense of "items of business to be done at a meeting" is attested by 1882. "If a singular is required (=one item of the agenda) it is now agendum, the former singular agend being obsolete" [Fowler].

agent (n.)

late 15c., "one who acts," from Latin agentem (nominative agens) "effective, powerful," present participle of agere "to set in motion, drive forward; to do, perform; keep in movement" (from PIE root *ag- "to drive, draw out or forth, move").

The meaning "any natural force or substance which produces a phenomenon" is from 1550s. The meaning "deputy, representative" is from 1590s. The sense of "spy, secret agent" is attested by 1916.