- to function or cause to function
- (transitive) to control the functioning of
- to manage, direct, run, or pursue (a business, system, etc)
- (intransitive) to perform a surgical operation (upon a person or animal)
- (intransitive) to produce a desired or intended effect
- (transitive) usually followed by on: to treat or process in a particular or specific way
- (intransitive) to conduct military or naval operations
- (intransitive) to deal in securities on a stock exchange
WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2017
- to work;
function:[no object]This coffee machine is not operating properly.
- to manage or use:[~ + object]could operate farm machinery.
- to carry on business:[no object]The company operates in southern California.
- to put or keep in operation:[~ + object]operated a factory in the midwest.
- Surgeryto perform a medical procedure in which the body is cut open and a part is removed or adjusted: [no object]The surgeon is ready to operate.[~ + on + object]The surgeon operated on several patients.
- Informal Termsto put oneself into a position of favor, advantage, etc., in a cunning way:[no object]really knows how to operate in the halls of government.
- 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 fol. by on or upon):Their propaganda is beginning to operate on the minds of the people.
- to perform some process of work or treatment.
- Surgeryto perform a surgical procedure.
- Drugs(of a drug) to produce the effect intended.
- to carry on operations in war.
- Militaryto give orders and accomplish military acts, as distinguished from doing staff work.
- to carry on transactions in securities, or some commodity, esp. speculatively or on a large scale.
- Informal Termsto use devious means for one's own gain;
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.
- Late Latin operātus, past participle of operārī, -āre to work, be efficacious, effect, produce, Latin: to busy oneself, verb, verbal derivative of opera effort, work, akin to opus work; see -ate1