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Act vs Play vs Impersonate

Act, play and impersonate all are synonyms when they mean to assume the appearance or role of another person or character.

Act usually and play frequently imply feigning for theatrical representation

  • act Hamlet
  • play the melancholy Dane

Even the idiom “to play one’s part” has a theatrical origin and still connotes performance and a contribution to an ensemble.

Whether impersonate implies simulation for the sake of theatrical representation or for deception can be gathered only from the context.

  • an actor who impersonates women
  • he was arrested for impersonating an officer