a woman who acts in stage plays, motion pictures, television broadcasts, etc., especially professionally.

1580–90; act(o)r + -ess

See -ess. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
actress (ˈæktrɪs)
1.  a woman who acts in a play, film, broadcast, etc
2.  informal a woman who puts on a false manner in order to deceive others
usage  Use of the word actress to refer to a female who acts is old-fashioned. The modern gender-neutral form is actor

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1580s, "female who does something;" see actor; stage sense is from 1700. Sometimes Fr. actrice was used.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
His marriage with an actress estranged him from his family, and after this
  event his life was that of a wastrel.
Which is a little strange given the fact that she is an actress.
She is a terrific actress, not at all afraid to take her clothes off and put
  herself on the line.
She's not an actress or a singer or a misbehaving heiress to a hotel fortune.
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