View synonyms for operate


[ op-uh-reyt ]

verb (used without object)

, op·er·at·ed, op·er·at·ing.
  1. to work, perform, or function, as a machine does:

    This engine does not operate properly.

  2. to work or use a machine, apparatus, or the like.
  3. to act effectively; produce an effect; exert force or influence (often followed by on or upon ):

    Their propaganda is beginning to operate on the minds of the people.

  4. to perform some process of work or treatment.
  5. Surgery. to perform a surgical procedure.
  6. (of a drug) to produce the effect intended.
  7. Military.
    1. to carry on operations in war.
    2. to give orders and accomplish military acts, as distinguished from doing staff work.
  8. to carry on transactions in securities, or some commodity, especially speculatively or on a large scale.
  9. Informal. to use devious means for one's own gain; insinuate oneself; finagle:

    a man who knows how to operate with the ladies.

verb (used with object)

, op·er·at·ed, op·er·at·ing.
  1. to manage or use (a machine, device, etc.):

    Do you know how to operate a forklift?

  2. to put or keep (a factory, industrial system, ranch, etc.) working or in operation:

    to operate a coal mine.

  3. to bring about, effect, or produce, as by action or the exertion of force or influence.


/ ˈɒpəˌreɪt /


  1. to function or cause to function
  2. tr to control the functioning of

    operate a machine

  3. to manage, direct, run, or pursue (a business, system, etc)
  4. intr to perform a surgical operation (upon a person or animal)
  5. intr to produce a desired or intended effect
  6. trusually foll byon to treat or process in a particular or specific way
  7. intr to conduct military or naval operations
  8. intr to deal in securities on a stock exchange

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Other Words From

  • oper·ata·ble adjective
  • pre·oper·ate verb (used without object) preoperated preoperating
  • re·oper·ate verb (used with object) reoperated reoperating
  • un·oper·ata·ble adjective
  • un·oper·ated adjective
  • well-oper·ated adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of operate1

First recorded in 1600–10; from Late Latin operātus, past participle of operārī, -āre “to work, be efficacious, effect, produce,” Latin: “to busy oneself,” verbal derivative of opera effort, work, akin to opus “work”; -ate 1

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Word History and Origins

Origin of operate1

C17: from Latin operāri to work

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Example Sentences

The app will operate on a freemium model, with some of the simpler biological clocks and combined age score available for free, but some of the more sophisticated clocks will require payment to unlock.

From Fortune

Kriel, 47, owns and operates Elli’s Kosher Kitchen, the only kosher catering company in Dubai.

From Ozy

Overdoses have gone up, while treatment centers are operating at limited capacity and struggling to stay afloat.

From Quartz

Society is making it clear that business has to do better, or risk losing its license to operate.

From Fortune

He averaged almost 33 points per game on 53 percent shooting, taking full advantage of the abundance of space with which he had to operate.

But it takes more than just pilots to operate the drone fleet.

"We will continue to operate in Portland," Uber spokeswoman Eva Behrend told The Oregonian.

They operate in a realm largely untouched by legislation, unions, and guilds.

Crowd labor platforms like Amazon Mechanical Turk operate with few rules and little protection for workers.

Without the proper equipment to repair and operate the Mohajer-4 it may be more of a photo prop than a piece of weaponry.

Then they were to co-operate with an army moving up from Arkansas, and the State would be redeemed.

The leaguers were now anxious to co-operate with the Americans in compelling the Spaniards to evacuate the Archipelago.

It may be that the expedition was intended first to operate as a diversion, and then to join Bruce himself in Nithsdale.

Leander had but the one to operate his stick with, while Ernest was drivin' both fists right into the darkness in front of him.

It is difficult, however, to trace the mode in which they operate on a substance of such complexity as the soil.


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[ak-suh-lot-l ]

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opera seriaoperatic