- 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
- 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 operativity
"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).
"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.
- Of, relating to, or resulting from a surgical operation.
- Functioning effectively; efficient.