Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To perform a function; work.
  • intransitive verb To perform surgery.
  • intransitive verb To exert an influence.
  • intransitive verb To produce a desired or proper effect.
  • intransitive verb To carry on a military or naval action or campaign.
  • intransitive verb Informal To conduct business in an irregular or devious manner.
  • intransitive verb To control the functioning of; run.
  • intransitive verb To conduct the affairs of; manage.
  • intransitive verb To supply with power.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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 the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To produce, as an effect; to cause.
  • transitive verb To put into, or to continue in, operation or activity; to work.
  • intransitive verb To perform a work or labor; to exert power or strength, physical or mechanical; to act.
  • intransitive verb (Med.) To produce an appropriate physical effect; to issue in the result designed by nature
  • intransitive verb To act or produce effect on the mind; to exert moral power or influence.
  • intransitive verb (Surg.) 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 verb Brokers' Cant To deal in stocks or any commodity with a view to speculative profits.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb To perform a work or labour; to exert power or strength, physical or mechanical; to act.
  • verb To produce an appropriate physical effect; to issue in the result designed by nature; especially (Med.), to take appropriate effect on the human system.
  • verb To act or produce effect on the mind; to exert moral power or influence.
  • verb medicine 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.
  • verb To deal in stocks or any commodity with a view to speculative profits.
  • verb To produce, as an effect; to cause.
  • verb To put into, or to continue in, operation or activity; to work; as, to operate a machine.

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

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

Etymologies

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

[Latin operārī, operāt-, to work; see op- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin operatus, past participle of operari ("to work, labor, toil, have effect"), from opus, operis ("work, labor").

Examples

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