- a person engaged, employed, or skilled in some branch of work, especially productive or industrial work; worker.
- a detective.
- a secret agent; spy.
- operating, or exerting force, power, or influence.
- having force; being in effect or operation: laws operative in this city.
- effective or efficacious.
- engaged in, concerned with, or pertaining to work or productive activity.
- significant; key: The operative word in that sentence is “sometimes.”
- Medicine/Medical. concerned with, involving, or pertaining to surgical operations.
Origin of operative
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for operative
“It seems to me that the operative questions are political and strategic, not legal,” said the former administration official.Cyberwar on North Korea Could Be Illegal
December 23, 2014
“That was a good sign,” said one operative helping to lay the groundwork for a Hillary run.The Race to Be Hillary’s Karl Rove
November 26, 2014
Make way not for ducklings but for relentless darkness: so the operative mantra goes.The Internet Embedded in Your Head
November 21, 2014
However, one prominent Iowa Democratic operative was left shaking his head at the mailer.Pro-Life Group Sends Over The Top Mailer
October 31, 2014
And McCrum, whose investigation led to the indictment, is no Democratic operative.Yes, Rick Perry Could End Up Doing Time
August 22, 2014
When the operative had withdrawn, the detective turned to Ramon.
Blaine demanded, curtly, when the operative paused at length.
Her father, an operative gardener, removed in 1842 to Torwoodlee, Roxburghshire.
He then went to Karazin as signalman and operative in the railway works.Maxim Gorki
The Spirit of God was operative so far as the unbelief of men permitted.Jesus the Christ
James Edward Talmage
- in force, effect, or operation
- exerting force or influence
- producing a desired effect; significantthe operative word
- of or relating to a surgical procedure
- a worker, esp one with a special skill
- US a private detective
Word Origin and History for operative
"producing the intended effect," early 15c., from Old French operatif (14c.) or directly from Late Latin operativus "creative, formative," from operat-, past participle stem of operari (see operation). Weakened sense of "significant, important" is from 1955.
"worker, operator," 1809, from operative (adj.); sense of "secret agent, spy" is first attested 1930, probably from its use by the Pinkerton Detective Agency as a title for their private detectives (1905).
- Of, relating to, or resulting from a surgical operation.
- Functioning effectively; efficient.