Definition of operate in English:



  • 1with object (of a person) control the functioning of (a machine, process, or system)

    ‘the Prime Minister operates a system of divide and rule’
    • ‘They point to the fact that some police officers already operating the Tetra radio system south of the Border have complained about suffering the same symptoms.’
    • ‘A person operating our control system could take it in stride.’
    • ‘The show will be directed by the company chairman, Jenny Orman, who has spent the last couple of years operating the theatre lighting system.’
    • ‘Although most of the pilots had not operated this system, several had a good working knowledge of the system.’
    • ‘‘There are five or six tiers of responsibility to monitor the programme, but it is only as good the people operating the system,’ he added.’
    • ‘Since 1997 he has operated a passive-radar system unshrouded by military secrecy.’
    • ‘The soldiers operating each of the systems create overlays from the data contained in their respective systems.’
    • ‘John explained that the teams operating the traction engines and threshing mills will have them working for twenty minutes at a time several times a day so that the public can gain a picture of what the work was like.’
    • ‘Due to the automation and ease of operation, one person can operate the entire system.’
    • ‘The young man operating that machine is careful to fold the end of the tape back on itself, leaving a little shirttail.’
    • ‘Although the home-exchange agencies don't vet potential swappers, they do operate a monitoring system.’
    • ‘Surgeons would operate the system from a remote video console which is linked to robotic instruments positioned above the operating table.’
    • ‘Less that 600 days after that small mewling creature came out into the world, she was operating the machine herself, slamming in CDs and pushing the buttons.’
    • ‘He also believes that the people operating machines or carrying out processes are usually those who know best how to get the optimum performance from them.’
    • ‘It was a big room with huge glasses, through which I could see three persons operating the monitoring system and watching the dashboard.’
    • ‘In that process, because of cultural norms, it was assumed that only men could operate machines.’
    • ‘These are defibrillator machines designed to be operated by members of the public.’
    • ‘Doctors usually operate CAT scan machines from a separate room so they aren't repeatedly exposed to radiation.’
    • ‘Carter acknowledges that the primary selling point for using robotic total stations is the freedom of having one person operate the system from the target.’
    • ‘He revealed that security guards operating the machine since it was installed three weeks ago have found penknives, darts, syringes and large screwdrivers on people coming into the court.’
    work, make go, run, set off, use, utilize, employ, handle, control, wield, ply, manage, be in charge of
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    1. 1.1no object, with adverbial (of a machine, process, or system) function in a specified manner.
      ‘market forces were allowed to operate freely’
      • ‘To make sure your system operates efficiently, examine it frequently, checking for leaks, clogs, or misdirected sprinklers or drip-emitters.’
      • ‘Private copying levies already operate efficiently in many European countries.’
      • ‘Rather than being caused by the market, crises occurred when market mechanisms did not operate freely.’
      • ‘The osteoporosis process can operate silently for decades.’
      • ‘However, international production systems can operate efficiently only when companies have easier access to imported inputs.’
      • ‘The flight passed a head nod down the line signaling that all engines were operating correctly and all systems were go.’
      • ‘If the dissolution process has operated efficiently through time, then extensive caves will be found in a limestone massif.’
      • ‘The days when a single service could operate independently and do major things on the global playing field are over.’
      • ‘The US has a witness protection programme that has been operating effectively for years.’
      • ‘Given such a constitutional framework, the most efficient economic system allows markets to operate freely, as individuals buy or sell commodities and services including their own labour.’
      • ‘He saw that heating systems were not operating efficiently and decided, with his wife Mae, to fix the problem.’
      • ‘On inspection it was found that everything in the recently developed transmission was operating perfectly, the jamming in fourth gear traced to the mating of the standard gear linkage to the new gearbox.’
      • ‘The trade is operating effectively, efficiently and economically.’
      • ‘Although the plane's engines were operating normally, investigators found that it was travelling too slow to lift off safely.’
      • ‘In Iraq, our manned and unmanned aircraft continue to operate successfully in the hostile desert environment.’
      • ‘Services are operating normally at all airports, and the Heathrow and Gatwick Express services are running to their normal timetables.’
      • ‘While this system operates efficiently when only a single pair of achiasmate chromosomes is present, multiple pairs of large chromosomes cannot be distinguished.’
      function, work, go, run, perform, act, be in action, behave, be in running order, be in working order, be operative
      take effect, act, be in effect, be in force, be in operation, stand, apply, be applied, run, be valid, remain valid, be current, function, be efficacious, hold good, be the case
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    2. 1.2no object Be in effect.
      ‘there is a powerful law which operates in politics’
      • ‘There may be some deterministic effects operating here, however.’
      • ‘In his book Pity the Nation, British journalist Robert Fisk explains in some detail the way the land laws operated and to what effect.’
      • ‘The Minister for Justice has to ensure the rule of law operates in every part of the country.’
      • ‘For much of this war, a strategic ‘seesaw’ effect operated - a side defeated in battle recovered its strength far more quickly than the victor.’
      • ‘The original creation of a global from a European international society can be read in this light, and there is every reason to think that this structural effect continues to operate.’
      • ‘The rule of law operates as a bar to untrammeled discretionary power.’
      • ‘It was a passage which was concerned with whether there was a general implication to the effect that Commonwealth laws are not to operate in a discriminatory fashion.’
      • ‘Obviously, there are both price and income effects operating, in that income itself is the multiple of the wage rate and the number of hours worked.’
      • ‘The law of cause and effect operates only in the realm of nature (the empirical realm).’
      • ‘If you back off and look at this field as a whole, what you see is that the nonlocal effects of consciousness operate across an immense spectrum of nature.’
      • ‘It is the essential basis on which the criminal law operates.’
      • ‘One of those policies operated in effect, he said, to reduce the provision of housing in the region up until 2016 from the 357,400 houses envisaged by the panel to only 256,000.’
      • ‘My answer is that certainly it is necessary that such laws operate in order for effects brought about directly by the agent to have ulterior consequences.’
    3. 1.3 Manage (a business)
      ‘many foreign companies operate factories in the United States’
      • ‘Without owning a private generator or two it would be impossible to operate some businesses, not to speak of having to cancel appointments, of planned functions being disrupted.’
      • ‘The company also operates an import business, which handles roughly 60 percent of all French cheese imported to the United States.’
      • ‘Something else to keep in mind is what is known as goal displacement - in which the goals of those operating the business displace the actual business goals.’
      • ‘He kept a herd of goats and operated a small business.’
      • ‘After owning and operating the business for more than 10 years, Richard and Susan both decided they wanted a change of pace.’
      • ‘Consultants in private practice are operating a business and should pay their own overheads or else take their business out of the hospital.’
      • ‘For example, if you operate a business that has a high rate of employee turnover, you may want to adopt a plan that allows you to have a vesting schedule for your contributions.’
      • ‘The planned taxes were also strongly opposed by foreign investors, especially Japanese firms, who are mostly operating export-oriented businesses on the island.’
      • ‘The planned tax has also raised strong protests from foreign investors, especially in Japan, who mostly operate export-oriented businesses on the island.’
      • ‘At that time, Pegasus stated its commitment to working with current management and operating the bicycle business as a going concern.’
      • ‘Callaghan now operates a publishing business in Ireland, while Bates has started one in Spain.’
      • ‘IT manages the information that's needed to operate a business.’
      • ‘Successful owners have learned that managerial reports are the key to operating a profitable business and being able to make better decisions faster.’
      • ‘A builder has been fined £3,500 for operating a business in Radcliffe without planning permission.’
      • ‘Any illegal found operating a business without a licence gets deported.’
      • ‘He and Corrine have been operating the business since 1997, first from home and then from premises in the township.’
      • ‘At least that's how managers try to operate such businesses.’
      • ‘There's an important lesson you have to learn when you own and operate your own business: your employees don't think like you.’
      • ‘She has been operating her business for three years - it has a turnover of about $10,000 a year and employs a small staff.’
      • ‘Taxes incurred in operating your business are generally deductible.’
      direct, control, manage, run, conduct, carry on, govern, administer, superintend, head, head up, lead, look after, supervise, oversee, preside over, be in charge of, be in control of
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    4. 1.4no object, with adverbial (of an organization) be managed in a specified way or from a specified place.
      ‘neither company had operated within the terms of its constitution’
      • ‘This decline occurs when an organization is operating in a stable or growing macroniche, but is fraught with self-induced problems.’
      • ‘Impressive as that was, the organization operated in a country the size of Massachusetts with an annual budget of just $2.5 million.’
      • ‘The specific industry environment in which organizations operate can have an impact on the strategic direction of a firm.’
      • ‘Moreover, factions within an organization may operate from a postmodern, modern, or even premodern orientation.’
      • ‘The state is commonly viewed as the primary source of the institutional framework within which organizations operate.’
      • ‘The move comes in the wake of a recent visit to Sri Lanka by a British minister who said Britain will ‘not tolerate’ terrorist organizations operating on its soil.’
      • ‘The new research institute is a post-genomic era organization operating in a global context.’
      • ‘Different representations may have more or less fidelity to the actual environment in which an organization operates.’
      • ‘Planned change as a mode of strategy formulation and implementation implies that the organization is operating in an environment in which the future may either be predicted or created.’
      • ‘HR flow policies can be strongly influenced by the national cultural assumptions within which the organization operates.’
      • ‘The big test comes when the two organizations actually operate together.’
      • ‘Ten organizations operated in all four of our country settings.’
      • ‘Target groups would include the public at large as well as public servants and regional organizations operating in the Caribbean.’
      • ‘Extremist organizations are operating on university campuses across the UK and pose a serious threat to national security, according to a new report.’
      • ‘Fortunately, not all people and organizations operate in this fashion.’
      • ‘Evidently you, your editor, and your organization do not operate under the same rules of journalism.’
      • ‘Most other organizations operate by encouragement and attempting to establish standards of good forest management.’
      • ‘It's rewarding to know that the organization is operating in sound financial order.’
      • ‘However, there are strong divisions between these groups, even within organizations operating together.’
      • ‘In reality it is unusual to see this method, primarily due to the complexity involved in calculation and the unstable environment within which most organizations operate.’
    5. 1.5no object, with adverbial (of an armed force) conduct military activities in a specified area.
      ‘the mountain bases from which the guerrillas were operating’
      • ‘Modern technology and design assist in urban control while complicating the terrain in which a military force might operate.’
      • ‘Large armed forces operating in centralized command structures would not be suited for such fighting, they argued, and in fact would be vulnerable.’
      • ‘His number tells me he was detained by U.S. forces operating in the region of Southwest Asia.’
      • ‘Others have in effect been kidnapped by CIA agents or military special forces units operating in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere.’
      • ‘The only people really that recognize the border, quite frankly, are soldiers from the U.S. military who are operating in that area.’
      • ‘This was seen in World War II, when U.S. forces operating in the Pacific theater competed for resources with those in the European theater.’
      • ‘‘UK armed forces operate in Iraq in accordance with relevant English law,’ a ministry spokesman said.’
      • ‘They also don't have the easy target that Cornwallis gave them at Yorktown, though there is a small British force operating in the area.’
      • ‘Coalition forces currently operate in a unique environment: a situation of international armed conflict within a state which is not a party to the conflict.’
      • ‘Second, U.S. forces increasingly operate in the challenging environment known as military operations other than war.’
      • ‘It takes 800 vehicle missions each day just to supply forces operating in Iraq.’
      • ‘Not clear right now who is responsible for the attack, but U.S. Central Command says that coalition forces were not operating in the area at the time of the attack.’
      • ‘My job was to document the war efforts of U.S. military forces operating out of Thailand.’
      • ‘Constrained by the tyranny of terrain, ground forces operate in a world of friction and position.’
      • ‘Instead, armored and mechanized task forces operate in or near population centers, compounding the difficulty of their assigned tasks.’
      • ‘These 10 issues are as diversified as the units in this joint medical task force operating in the KTO.’
      • ‘His is one of a number of forces with armed militia operating in the country.’
      • ‘You don't organize military forces to go operate somewhere unless you know what the target is, where it is, how it moves.’
      • ‘The dynamic interaction between cities and the military forces operating in them redefines and reshapes those forces over time.’
      • ‘This relationship has recently been reaffirmed and reinterpreted to provide for greater logistical support to U.S. forces operating in the area.’
  • 2no object Perform a surgical operation.

    ‘surgeons operated on on his jaw yesterday morning’
    ‘doctors refused to operate because of the risks involved’
    • ‘Surgeons at the specialist hospital operated on the colonel on Wednesday night.’
    • ‘David's operation and unbelievable progress were captured on film by the Caribbean surgeons who operated on him and may be used in a TV documentary in the future.’
    • ‘The first time that Norton saw the third patient, a music teacher from Wakefield known as Mr B, was just before he operated on him in December 1993.’
    • ‘The surgeon who operated on him, now the godfather of his son, has since elaborated that much more internal bleeding would have cost him his life.’
    • ‘She swears the only doctor who has helped her reach Mount Olympus is the surgeon who operated on her knee.’
    • ‘And he is horrified that if he had had opted for his son to have a general anaesthetic, which he was offered, the dental surgeon at Leeds Dental Institute could have operated on the wrong side.’
    • ‘Concerns about the standard of care were further highlighted by the fact that the surgeon who eventually operated on the man was given the wrong endoscope, which in any case wasn't working.’
    • ‘In exasperation Philip went to a London specialist who operated on his back two weeks ago, fusing the bottom two vertebrae together and adding a bone graft from his hips to lend the entire area added stability.’
    • ‘She alleges that the surgeon who operated on her was negligent in that what was supposed to be a simple surgical procedure resulted in partial paralysis of her left side.’
    • ‘He operated on the bird and treated it with antibiotics.’
    • ‘Lewis was told her daughter needed a lung transplant or she would not reach five, but that surgeons at the hospital had never operated on such a small child: even now she weighs only 20 lb.’
    • ‘British surgeons told them that surgery was too risky, but they read about a pioneering brain surgeon in America who had successfully operated on a two-year-old girl with a brain tumour.’
    • ‘The surgeons who operated on him thought he might never walk again.’
    • ‘He operated on Shannon in the immediate aftermath of the mountain lion attack and is scheduled for another operation with her on Friday.’
    • ‘My experience of the NHS, from the superb and knighted surgeon who operated on me to the Indian tea lady with her endless cups, was one of kindness, courtesy and concern.’
    • ‘The vicious attack has left his life in ruins after surgeons, who operated on his leg, told him he will never fully recover.’
    • ‘Two surgeons, Wisheart and Dhasmana, operated on patients suffering from acquired and congenital heart disease, both adults and children.’
    • ‘The eminent surgeon who had been asked to perform ileostomy refused to operate because he thought it much better for the boy and society that nature be left to take her course.’
    • ‘He said the hospital had received 40 patients this year and operated on 10, compared with just two or three such operations last year.’
    • ‘But Franz also operated on her chin, eyes, and cheek bones.’
    perform surgery, carry out an operation, intervene
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Early 17th century: from Latin operat- ‘done by labour’, from the verb operari, from opus, oper- ‘work’.