verb (used without object), op·er·at·ed, op·er·at·ing.

verb (used with object), op·er·at·ed, op·er·at·ing.

Nearby words

  1. operagoer,
  2. operand,
  3. operant,
  4. operant conditioning,
  5. operant learning,
  6. operatic,
  7. operating,
  8. operating budget,
  9. operating income,
  10. operating microscope

Origin of operate

1600–10; < 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; see -ate1

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

Examples from the Web for operate

British Dictionary definitions for operate



to function or cause to function
(tr) to control the functioning ofoperate a machine
to manage, direct, run, or pursue (a business, system, etc)
(intr) to perform a surgical operation (upon a person or animal)
(intr) to produce a desired or intended effect
(tr usually foll by on) to treat or process in a particular or specific way
(intr) to conduct military or naval operations
(intr) to deal in securities on a stock exchange

Word Origin for operate

C17: from Latin operāri to work

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 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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for operate




To perform surgery.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.