I am reading a book where I find some sentences like

"... how international actors impact civil wars"

"... being a 'player' in regional politics"

"... further study of each of the six actors' policies towards Syria"

I'm not familiar with the meaning of "actors" and "player" in this perspective.

How can I understand it clearly?

  • This is a specialised usage that might be better answered on Politics.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Sep 2, 2021 at 0:51
  • 4
    Actor and player here just mean “participants.” Look them up in, e.g., AHD.
    – Xanne
    Commented Sep 2, 2021 at 1:10
  • 1
    “…one man in his time plays many parts . . .”
    – Xanne
    Commented Sep 2, 2021 at 1:12
  • They're just metaphors, as though countries are like individuals with personalities.
    – Mitch
    Commented Sep 2, 2021 at 13:28

1 Answer 1


Words, as you might know already, have multiple denotations. According to Merriem Webster, an "actor" (in your scenario) is defined as:

one that takes part in any affair

The affair in your situation? Politics. Note, however, that the meaning drastically changes in different contexts, where it connotes rather than denoting. For example, one may say:

I don't like him; he's such an actor.

In this instance, the word is used to suggest that the person conceals their true identity & therefore the speaker dislikes him.

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