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 ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.