- to work, perform, or function, as a machine does: This engine does not operate properly.
- to work or use a machine, apparatus, or the like.
- 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.
- to perform some process of work or treatment.
- Surgery. to perform a surgical procedure.
- (of a drug) to produce the effect intended.
- to carry on operations in war.
- to give orders and accomplish military acts, as distinguished from doing staff work.
- to carry on transactions in securities, or some commodity, especially speculatively or on a large scale.
- Informal. to use devious means for one's own gain; insinuate oneself; finagle: a man who knows how to operate with the ladies.
- to manage or use (a machine, device, etc.): to operate a switchboard.
- to put or keep (a factory, industrial system, ranch, etc.) working or in operation: to operate a coal mine.
- to bring about, effect, or produce, as by action or the exertion of force or influence.
Origin of operate
Related Wordsdo, move, run, complete, engage, transport, work, serve, keep, produce, take, act, promote, conduct, achieve, play, handle, drive, administer, explore
Examples from the Web for operate
But it takes more than just pilots to operate the drone fleet.Exclusive: U.S. Drone Fleet at ‘Breaking Point,’ Air Force Says
January 5, 2015
"We will continue to operate in Portland," Uber spokeswoman Eva Behrend told The Oregonian.Things Are Going Downhill Fast for Uber
December 11, 2014
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.ISIS: We Nabbed an Iranian Drone
November 17, 2014
No, my lad, I'm not going to operate on you instanter, but I do want my reflector.The Leopard Woman
Stewart Edward White
The magnetic influence cannot be seen--is this a reason that it does not operate?Female Scripture Biographies, Vol. II
Francis Augustus Cox
I could not operate the mechanism of invisibility of De Boer's X-flyer.
It is possible to operate the spindles at a remarkable speed.The Fabric of Civilization
Oh to be allowed to operate properly, as grown-up people do!Lotus Buds
- 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 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.
- To perform surgery.