Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To perform a function; work: The motor operates smoothly.
  • intransitive v. To perform surgery.
  • intransitive v. To exert an influence: forces operating on the economy.
  • intransitive v. To produce a desired or proper effect: a drug that operates quickly.
  • intransitive v. To carry on a military or naval action or campaign.
  • intransitive v. Informal To conduct business in an irregular or devious manner: drug dealers operating in residential and urban areas.
  • transitive v. To control the functioning of; run: operate a sewing machine.
  • transitive v. To conduct the affairs of; manage: operate a business.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To perform a work or labour; to exert power or strength, physical or mechanical; to act.
  • v. To produce an appropriate physical effect; to issue in the result designed by nature; especially (Med.), to take appropriate effect on the human system.
  • v. To act or produce effect on the mind; to exert moral power or influence.
  • v. To perform some manual act upon a human body in a methodical manner, and usually with instruments, with a view to restore soundness or health, as in amputation, lithotomy, etc.
  • v. To deal in stocks or any commodity with a view to speculative profits.
  • v. To produce, as an effect; to cause.
  • v. To put into, or to continue in, operation or activity; to work; as, to operate a machine.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To perform a work or labor; to exert power or strength, physical or mechanical; to act.
  • intransitive v. To produce an appropriate physical effect; to issue in the result designed by nature
  • intransitive v. To act or produce effect on the mind; to exert moral power or influence.
  • intransitive v. To perform some manual act upon a human body in a methodical manner, and usually with instruments, with a view to restore soundness or health, as in amputation, lithotomy, etc.
  • intransitive v. To deal in stocks or any commodity with a view to speculative profits.
  • transitive v. To produce, as an effect; to cause.
  • transitive v. To put into, or to continue in, operation or activity; to work.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To perform or be at work; exert force or influence; act: with on or upon governing the object of the action: as, the sculptor operates on the clay or marble of which he makes his figures; a machine operates on the raw materials submitted to it.
  • Specifically, in surgery, to perform some manual act upon the body of the patient, usually with instruments, with a view to restore soundness or health, or otherwise to improve the physical condition.
  • To produce an effect; act; work: used absolutely.
  • To produce the desired or appropriate effect; act effectively; be effectual in producing the result intended: as, the medicine operated well.
  • To carry on speculative transactions; buy and sell speculatively: with in: as, to operate in stocks; to operate in oil.
  • Synonyms 3 and 4. Act, Work, etc. See act.
  • To effect; produce by action or the exertion of force or energy; accomplish as an agent; cause.
  • To direct or superintend the working of; cause to move or perform the acts desired; work: as, to operate a machine.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. keep engaged
  • v. direct or control; projects, businesses, etc.
  • v. perform a movement in military or naval tactics in order to secure an advantage in attack or defense
  • v. perform as expected when applied
  • v. handle and cause to function
  • v. perform surgery on
  • v. happen

Etymologies

Latin operārī, operāt-, from opera, work; see op- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin operatus, past participle of operari ("to work, labor, toil, have effect"), from opus, operis ("work, labor"). (Wiktionary)

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