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

  • adjective Being in effect; having force; operating.
  • adjective Functioning effectively; efficient.
  • adjective Engaged in or concerned with physical or mechanical activity.
  • adjective Of, relating to, or resulting from a surgical operation.
  • adjective Significant; most important; key.
  • noun A skilled worker, especially in industry.
  • noun A secret agent; a spy.
  • noun A private investigator.
  • noun One who works for a political organization, often wielding influence out of public view.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun One who operates in any line of business; an operator: used in certain circumstances as a convenient substitute for detective.
  • Active in the production of effects or results; acting; exerting force or influence.
  • Efficacious; effective; efficient.
  • Concerned with the actual exercise of power, or the putting forth of effort or labor in the accomplishment of some end; practical.
  • Of, pertaining to, or concerned with operations, as those of surgery.
  • noun A workman; an artisan.

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

  • adjective Having the power of acting; hence, exerting force, physical or moral; active in the production of effects.
  • adjective Producing the appropriate or designed effect; efficacious; effective.
  • adjective (Surg.) Based upon, or consisting of, an operation or operations.
  • noun A skilled worker; an artisan; esp., one who operates a machine in a mill or manufactory.
  • noun One who acts as an agent of another, especially a detective or spy.

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

  • adjective Effectual or important.
  • adjective Functional, in working order.
  • noun An employee or other worker with some particular function or skill.
  • noun A spy, secret agent, or detective.
  • noun A participant of an operation.

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

  • noun someone who can be employed as a detective to collect information
  • adjective effective; producing a desired effect
  • adjective relating to or requiring or amenable to treatment by surgery especially as opposed to medicine
  • noun a person secretly employed in espionage for a government
  • adjective (of e.g. a machine) performing or capable of performing
  • adjective being in force or having or exerting force


Sorry, no etymologies found.


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    March 12, 2008

  • operative word

    October 11, 2010