used or engaged in performing operations: an operating surgeon.
of, for, or pertaining to operations: an operating budget.
of or pertaining to the proper operation of a machine, appliance, etc.: a manual of operating instructions.
Railroads. of, pertaining, or belonging to railroad workers, as engineers or firemen, who are directly engaged in the mechanical operation of trains: an operating union.

1800–10; operate + -ing1

nonoperating, adjective
unoperating, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged


verb (used without object), operated, operating.
to work, perform, or function, as a machine does: This engine does not operate properly.
to work or use a machine, apparatus, or the like.
to act effectively; produce an effect; exert force or influence (often followed by on or upon ): Their propaganda is beginning to operate on the minds of the people.
to perform some process of work or treatment.
Surgery. to perform a surgical procedure.
(of a drug) to produce the effect intended.
to carry on operations in war.
to give orders and accomplish military acts, as distinguished from doing staff work.
to carry on transactions in securities, or some commodity, especially speculatively or on a large scale.
Informal. to use devious means for one's own gain; insinuate oneself; finagle: a man who knows how to operate with the ladies.
verb (used with object), operated, operating.
to manage or use (a machine, device, etc.): to operate a switchboard.
to put or keep (a factory, industrial system, ranch, etc.) working or in operation: to operate a coal mine.
to bring about, effect, or produce, as by action or the exertion of force or influence.

1600–10; < Late Latin operātus, past participle of operārī, -āre to work, be efficacious, effect, produce, Latin: to busy oneself, verbal derivative of opera effort, work, akin to opus work; see -ate1

operatable, adjective
preoperate, verb (used without object), preoperated, preoperating.
reoperate, verb (used with object), reoperated, reoperating.
unoperatable, adjective
unoperated, adjective
well-operated, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
operate (ˈɒpəˌreɪt)
vb (usually foll by on)
1.  to function or cause to function
2.  (tr) to control the functioning of: operate a machine
3.  to manage, direct, run, or pursue (a business, system, etc)
4.  (intr) to perform a surgical operation (upon a person or animal)
5.  (intr) to produce a desired or intended effect
6.  to treat or process in a particular or specific way
7.  (intr) to conduct military or naval operations
8.  (intr) to deal in securities on a stock exchange
[C17: from Latin operāri to work]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1600, "to be in effect," from L. operari "to work, labor" (in L.L. "to have effect, be active, cause"); see operation. Surgical sense is first attested 1799. Meaning "to work machinery" is from 1864 in Amer.Eng. Operating system in the computer sense is from 1961.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

operate op·er·ate (ŏp'ə-rāt')
v. op·er·at·ed, op·er·at·ing, op·er·ates
To perform surgery.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Example sentences
Researchers liken that step to rebooting a computer, because a genome is akin an operating system that makes a cell function.
In the corner of the dimly lit room, in the only operating chamber, a single bat survives-but it won't live much longer.
Beneath the fancy operating system on your computer, there is another operating system.
The successful candidate will have both executive leadership and direct operating responsibilities.
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