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Alternative forms


From actor +‎ -ess. Probably formed independently of Middle French actrice.


  • IPA(key): /ˈæk.tɹɪs/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -æktɹɪs


actress (plural actresses, masculine actor)

  1. A female who performs on the stage or in films.
    • 1972, Neil Young (lyrics and music), “A Man Needs a Maid”, in Harvest:
      A while ago somewhere I don't know when / I was watchin' a movie with a friend / I fell in love with the actress / She was playin' a part that I could understand
    • 2010, Peter Corris, Torn Apart, Allen and Unwin, page 88:
      "I'm an actress -- actor, as we have to say these days."
    • 2011 January 27, “Not going quietly”, in The Economist:
      Court documents appear to show that Ian Edmondson, a senior News of the World journalist, had authorised Mr Mulcaire to hack phones belonging to Sienna Miller, an actress.
  2. (now rare) A female doer or "actor" (in a general sense).
    • 1796, Matthew Lewis, The Monk, Folio Society, published 1985, page 290:
      My mental anguish, and the dreadful scenes in which I had been an actress, advanced the period of my labour.

Usage notes

  • Actor may also be used to refer to a female performer.


Derived terms

Related terms


  • Cebuano: aktres
  • Tagalog: aktres



  1. ^ actress”, in Unabridged,, LLC, 1995–present.
  2. ^ actress”, in Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, 1996–present.
  3. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2023), “actress”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.
  4. ^ John A. Simpson and Edmund S. C. Weiner, editors (1989), “actress”, in The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition, Oxford: Clarendon Press, →ISBN.





actress (plural actresses)

  1. actress