When you react to something, you respond to it. If someone pokes you in class, you might react by sticking out your tongue at them. The teacher might then react by giving you both detention.

If someone says to you, "act, don't react," they are telling you not to automatically respond to something that someone does. Instead, you should think about it first and then decide what you want to do. In science, the word react is used to describe what happens when two substances combine and cause a chemical change in each other. When you add baking soda to vinegar, the chemicals in each react and create a foamy lava like substance.

Definitions of react
  1. verb
    show a response or a reaction to something
    synonyms: respond
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    regard or consider in a specific way
    react in an offended or angry manner
    flip, flip out
    react in an excited, delighted, or surprised way
    show an exaggerated response to something
    react to a stimulus or command
    be sexually responsive to, used of a female domesticated mammal
    react to a decoy, of wildfowl
    respond favorably or as hoped
    react to in a certain way
    show a violent emotional reaction
    react favorably to; consider right and proper
    respond to a signal
    decline, refuse
    show unwillingness towards
    accept, consent, go for
    give an affirmative reply to; respond favorably to
    marvel, wonder
    be amazed at
    acknowledge, notice
    express recognition of the presence or existence of, or acquaintance with
    refuse, reject, resist
    resist immunologically the introduction of some foreign tissue or organ
    consent to engage in sexual intercourse with a man
    consent or assent to a condition, or agree to do something
    disdain, freeze off, pooh-pooh, reject, scorn, spurn, turn down
    reject with contempt
    accept despite lack of complete satisfaction
    contract in
    consent in writing to pay money to a trade union for political use
    contract out
    refuse to pay a levy to a union for political use
    allow, countenance, let, permit
    consent to, give permission
    buckle under, give in, knuckle under, succumb, yield
    consent reluctantly
    decline formally or politely
    refuse to recognize or pay
    cite, mention
    take in charge, undertake
    accept as a charge
    refuse to go along with; refuse to follow; be disobedient
    type of:
    act, move
    perform an action, or work out or perform (an action)
  2. verb
    act against or in opposition to
    “She reacts negatively to everything I say”
    synonyms: oppose
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    act on, follow up on, pursue
    carry further or advance
    buck, go against
    check out, run down
    type of:
    act, move
    perform an action, or work out or perform (an action)
  3. verb
    undergo a chemical reaction; react with another substance under certain conditions
    “The hydrogen and the oxygen react
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    bromate, brominate
    react with bromine
    type of:
    change state, turn
    undergo a transformation or a change of position or action
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