v. op·er·at·ed, op·er·at·ing, op·er·ates
1. To perform a function; work: The motor operates smoothly.
2. To perform surgery.
a. To exert an influence: forces operating on the economy.
b. To produce a desired or proper effect: a drug that operates quickly.
4. To carry on a military or naval action or campaign.
5. Informal To conduct business in an irregular or devious manner: drug dealers operating in residential and urban areas.
1. To control the functioning of; run: operate a sewing machine.
2. To conduct the affairs of; manage: operate a business.
3. To supply with power: a car that is operated by electricity.
[Latin operārī, operāt-, to work; see op- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.