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

  • adj. Being in effect; having force; operating: "Two major tendencies are operative in the American political system” ( Heinz Eulau).
  • adj. Functioning effectively; efficient.
  • adj. Engaged in or concerned with physical or mechanical activity.
  • adj. Of, relating to, or resulting from a surgical operation.
  • adj. Significant; most important; key: The operative word is "low-fat.”
  • n. A skilled worker, especially in industry.
  • n. A secret agent; a spy.
  • n. A private investigator.
  • n. One who works for a political organization, often wielding influence out of public view.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • 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.
  • n. A workman; an artisan.
  • n. One who operates in any line of business; an operator: used in certain circumstances as a convenient substitute for detective.

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

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


Sorry, no etymologies found.



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  • operative word

    October 11, 2010


    March 12, 2008