verb (used without object), op·er·at·ed, op·er·at·ing.
- to carry on operations in war.
- to give orders and accomplish military acts, as distinguished from doing staff work.
verb (used with object), op·er·at·ed, op·er·at·ing.
Origin of operate
Word Origin for operate
c.1600, "to be in effect," back-formation from operation, or else from Latin operatus, past participle of operari "to work, labor, toil, take pains" (in Late Latin "to have effect, be active, cause"). Surgical sense is first attested 1799. Meaning "to work machinery" is from 1864 in American English. Related: Operated; operating. Operating system in the computer sense is from 1961.