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activate

[ak-tuh-veyt]
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verb (used with object), ac·ti·vat·ed, ac·ti·vat·ing.
  1. to make active; cause to function or act.
  2. Physics.
    1. to render more reactive; excite: to activate a molecule.
    2. to induce radioactivity.
  3. to aerate (sewage) in order to accelerate decomposition of impure organic matter by microorganisms.
  4. Chemistry.
    1. to make (carbon, a catalyst, molecules, etc.) more active.
    2. to hasten (reactions) by various means, as heating.
  5. to place (a military unit or station) on an active status in an assigned capacity.
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Origin of activate

First recorded in 1620–30; active + -ate1
Related formsac·ti·va·tion, nounnon·ac·ti·va·tion, nouno·ver·ac·ti·vate, verb (used with object), o·ver·ac·ti·vat·ed, o·ver·ac·ti·vat·ing.su·per·ac·ti·vate, verb (used with object), su·per·ac·ti·vat·ed, su·per·ac·ti·vat·ing.un·ac·ti·vat·ed, adjective
Can be confusedactivate actuate stimulate

Synonyms

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1. actuate, start, turn on, set going.

Antonyms

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

triggermobilizestimulatemovepromptpropelenergizemotivateactuateimpelstartarouserousestir

Examples from the Web for activate

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • It seemed to activate some hidden response in her, for she glowed with tenderness.

    Martians Never Die

    Lucius Daniel

  • And, remember, if it becomes necessary, I can activate the manacle.

    The Players

    Everett B. Cole

  • Feedback will be to a master control servo that'll activate the heater or cooler.

  • The males are few in number and lack the power to activate the disks.

    Storm Over Warlock

    Andre Norton

  • It could be induced to go into action and to activate the other plasmoids.

    Legacy

    James H Schmitz


British Dictionary definitions for activate

activate

verb (tr)
  1. to make active or capable of action
  2. physics to make radioactive
  3. chem
    1. to increase the rate of (a reaction)
    2. to treat (a substance, such as carbon or alumina) so as to increase powers of adsorption
  4. physiol to prepare by arousal (the body or one of its organs (e.g. the brain)) for action
  5. to purify (sewage) by aeration
  6. US military to create, mobilize, or organize (a unit)
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Derived Formsactivation, nounactivator, noun
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

Word Origin and History for activate

v.

1620s; see active + -ate (2). Related: Activated; activating.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper