[op-er-uh nt]


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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for operant

driver, engineer, operative

Examples from the Web for operant

Historical Examples of operant

  • A permanent revulsion was operant in her, which intensified as time wore on.

  • 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.


    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

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

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

operant in Medicine




Operating to produce effects; effective.
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.target response
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.