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[op-er-uh nt] /ˈɒp ər ənt/
operating; producing effects.
a person or thing that operates.
Origin of operant
1595-1605; < Late Latin operant- (stem of operāns, present participle of operārī; see operate); see -ant Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for operant
Historical Examples
  • A permanent revulsion was operant in her, which intensified as time wore on.

    A Group of Noble Dames Thomas Hardy
  • The operant will to get rid of them would be baptized with a fire that should burn them up.

    Hope of the Gospel George MacDonald
  • No conscious courage was operant in me; simply, I was not afraid.

    Lilith George MacDonald
  • Thus, within one individual both parasitic and predatory behavior are operant during different stages of its life history.

  • Their religion was simply patriotism, but it was quite as operant and effective as Christian piety has ever been.

    Arrows of Freethought George W. Foote
  • Feelings are associated with one another according as they have been operant in more or less frequent succession.

    The Browning Cyclopdia Edward Berdoe
British Dictionary definitions for operant


producing effects; operating
a person or thing that operates
(psychol) any response by an organism that is not directly caused by a stimulus
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for operant

"that works," early 15c., from Latin operantem (nominative operans), present participle of operari "to work" (see operation). Psychological sense of "involving behavior modification" coined 1937 by U.S. psychologist B.F. Skinner (e.g. operant conditioning, 1938, Skinner).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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operant in Medicine

operant op·er·ant (ŏp'ər-ənt)

  1. Operating to produce effects; effective.

  2. Of, relating to, or being a response that occurs spontaneously and is identified by its reinforcing or inhibiting effects.

In operant conditioning, a behavior or specific response chosen by the experimenter or therapist. Also called target response.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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