View synonyms for operative


[ op-er-uh-tiv, op-ruh-tiv, op-uh-rey-tiv ]


  1. a person engaged, employed, or skilled in some branch of work, especially productive or industrial work; worker.

    Synonyms: workman

  2. a detective.

    Synonyms: investigator, agent

  3. a secret agent; spy.


  1. operating, operating, or exerting force, power, or influence.
  2. having force; being in effect or operation:

    laws operative in this city.

  3. effective or efficacious.

    Synonyms: serviceable, effectual

  4. engaged in, concerned with, or pertaining to work or productive activity.
  5. significant; key:

    The operative word in that sentence is “sometimes.”

  6. Medicine/Medical. concerned with, involving, or pertaining to surgical operations.


/ ˈɒpərətɪv /


  1. in force, effect, or operation
  2. exerting force or influence
  3. producing a desired effect; significant

    the operative word

  4. of or relating to a surgical procedure


  1. a worker, esp one with a special skill
  2. a private detective

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Derived Forms

  • ˈoperatively, adverb
  • ˈoperativeness, noun

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Other Words From

  • oper·a·tive·ly adverb
  • oper·a·tive·ness op·er·a·tiv·i·ty [op-er-, uh, -, tiv, -i-tee], noun
  • inter·oper·a·tive noun adjective
  • non·oper·a·tive adjective
  • un·oper·a·tive adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of operative1

1590–1600; < Middle French operatif < Latin operāt ( us ) ( operate ) + Middle French -if -ive

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Example Sentences

That means Kremlin operatives have the green light to pursue some of those goals — like knocking off a political rival — while officially keeping Putin out the loop.

From Vox

The lead lobbyist for the Canadian company was David Urban, a Republican political operative credited with delivering the traditionally Democratic state of Pennsylvania to the president in the 2016 election.

GOP operatives said they are hoping for a leveling of the field once early in-person voting kicks in widely and then on Election Day.

They painted us as cartel operatives, as benefiting from illegal activity and called me a human trafficker, to deliberately advance their fundraising goals.

His best option is probably to use his intelligence service, which is very close to the intelligence service in Belarus, which still calls itself the KGB, and is probably totally penetrated by Putin’s intelligence operatives.

From Ozy

“It seems to me that the operative questions are political and strategic, not legal,” said the former administration official.

“That was a good sign,” said one operative helping to lay the groundwork for a Hillary run.

Make way not for ducklings but for relentless darkness: so the operative mantra goes.

However, one prominent Iowa Democratic operative was left shaking his head at the mailer.

On the fashion shoot beforehand, he was puppyish energy and charm—no diva-ishness, just fast, funny, and co-operative.

The conception of the relation of this institution with them as co-operative makes headway slowly.

This system, as already stated, became operative in most districts during June, 1915.

Still another kind of war credit bank was created on the co-operative plan to assist the middle and lower classes.

Democracy, let us grant it, is the best system of government as yet operative in this world of sin.

And I have had a unique opportunity of watching the effect of some co-operative effort in Champaran.


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More About Operative

What does operative mean?

An operative is a person who is employed in or is skilled in a certain branch of work.

Operative is generally used to mean a worker, but in some industries, an operative is specifically a representative or a manager.

In the fields of espionage and tactics, an operative is almost always a spy or agent working secretly for an organization.

Operative also means detective when used in reference to the police force or private investigation teams.

As an adjective, operative often means exerting power or influence. Something that is operative is binding or in effect, such as operative laws or an operative organization that establishes rules.

In medicine, operative describes something related to a surgical operation. Operative pain, for example, is pain that occurs from having an operation.

Example: A public relations operative informed us that there is an emerging crisis.

Where does operative come from?

The first records of the term operative come from around the 1590s. It ultimately comes from the Latin operātus. 

You might also hear operative used to mean “key” or “central,” especially as in the context of literature or grammar. In this case, something operative is required or unavoidable for the completion or accomplishment of something. In grammar, an operative word is one that gives the sentence its specific meaning or emphasizes the main point.

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What are some other forms related to operative?

  • operatively (adverb)
  • operativeness (noun)
  • interoperative (adjective, noun)
  • nonoperative (adjective)
  • inoperative (adjective)

What are some synonyms for operative?

What are some words that share a root or word element with operative

What are some words that often get used in discussing operative?

How is operative used in real life?

Operative is a common word with several meanings.

Try using operative!

Is operative used correctly in the following sentence?

The operative word in the stirring directions is ‘continuously,’ otherwise the mixture will burn.




operations roomoperatize