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operate - definition and synonyms

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verb     operate pronunciation in American English
Word Forms
present tense
present participleoperating
past tenseoperated
past participleoperated
  1. 1
    [intransitive] if equipment operates, it works and does what it is intended to do
    operate on/at:

    Many computers were still operating on a two-digit dating system.

    The motor operates at very high speeds.

    1. a.
      [transitive] to use and control a piece of equipment

      You should not operate machinery after taking this medication.

      My job was to operate the telephone switchboard.

  2. 2
    [intransitive] if an organization or company operates, it does its work

    The company has been operating in South America for two years.

    operate as:

    The new business will operate as a subsidiary of our company.

    operate under/within:

    All the parties have to operate within the democratic system.

    operate on a basis/principle:

    The organization operates on a nonprofit basis.

  3. 3
    [intransitive] to cut into part of someone’s body for medical reasons

    Surgeons had to operate to remove the bullet.

    operate on:

    The driver of the car was operated on immediately.

    We may have to operate on your leg.

  4. 4
    [transitive] to organize a service or system and make it available to people

    This government agency operates the war on drugs.

    1. a.
      [intransitive] if a service or system operates, it exists and is available

      Flights operate daily from Miami.

  5. 5
    [intransitive] if something such as a rule, idea, or fact operates, it exists and has an effect in a particular situation
    operate as:

    This law effectively operates as a tax on education.

  6. 6
    [intransitive] if someone operates in a particular way, that is how they achieve what they want to do

    She won’t argue with you, that’s not how she operates.

    operate by doing something:

    Carlson operated by gaining people’s confidence and then taking their money.

    operate as:

    The sales force usually operates as a team.

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