Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Date: 1600-1700
Language: Latin
Origin: , past participle of operari 'to work', from opus; OPUS

operate

verb
     
op‧e‧rate S3 W2
1

machine

a) [transitive]T to use and control a machine or equipment:
The Lewis family operated a number of boats on the canal.
Clive was experienced in operating the computers.
b) [intransitive always + adverb/preposition] if a machine operates in a particular way, it works in that way
operate in/at
Check that the equipment is operating in a safe manner.
The bus is designed to operate in all weather conditions.
Most freezers operate at below -18°C.
2

business/organization

a) [intransitive] if a business or organization operates in a particular place or way, it works in that place or way
operate in/within/from
a design company operating from offices in Seattle.
A playgroup operates on the campus.
They were trying to reduce operating costs.
b) [transitive] to control a business or organization:
Nuns are operating an emergency hospital.
3

system/process/service

[intransitive and transitive] if a system, process, or service operates, or if you operate it, it works:
The whole tax system is now operating more efficiently.
The new law doesn't operate in our favour.
The car parks operate a pay-as-you-leave system.
The bus company operates a Monday to Saturday service.
4

medical

[intransitive]MH to cut into someone's body in order to repair or remove a part that is damaged:
Doctors had to operate to remove the bullet.
operate on
the surgeon who operated on Taylor's knee
! A surgeon does not 'operate' a part of a person's body. He or she operates on it: They need to operate on her stomach (NOT operate her stomach).
5

work

[intransitive] to do your job or try to achieve things in a particular way:
Most people just can't operate in noisy, crowded conditions.
Older children often like to operate independently.
6

soldiers/police

[intransitive] if soldiers or police officers are operating in an area, they are working in that area
operate in
Security patrols now operate in some of the most dangerous parts of the city.
enemy submarines operating in the Mediterranean
7

operate as something

to have a particular purpose:
The foam operates as a very effective filter.
The car's service manual is designed to operate as a guide for owners.
8

laws/principles

[intransitive] to have an effect on something:
the laws of evolution operating on each species

Dictionary pictures of the day
Do you know what each of these is called?
What is the word for picture 1? What is the word for picture 2? What is the word for picture 3? What is the word for picture 4?
Click on any of the pictures above to find out what it is called.

Explore our topic dictionary