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  1. operate
  2. verb

    • 1. (of a person) control the functioning of (a machine, process, or system):

      the Prime Minister operates a system of divide and rule
      Synonym : work, make go, run, set off, use, utilize, employ, handle, control, wield, ply, manage, be in charge of, drive, steer, guide, pilot, manipulate, manoeuvre, exercise
    • 2. (of a machine, process, or system) function in a specified manner:

      market forces were allowed to operate freely
      Synonym : function, work, go, run, perform, act, be in action, behave, be in working/running order, be operative, take effect, act, be in effect, be in force, be in operation, stand, apply, be applied, run, be/remain valid, be current, function, be efficacious, hold good, be the case
    • 3. be in effect:

      there is a powerful law which operates in politics
    • 4. manage (a business):

      many foreign companies operate factories in the United States
      Synonym : direct, control, manage, run, conduct, carry on, govern, administer, superintend, head (up), lead, look after, supervise, oversee, preside over, be in control/charge of
    • 5. (of an organization) be managed in a specified way or from a specified place:

      neither company had operated within the terms of its constitution
    • 6. (of an armed force) conduct military activities in a specified area:

      the mountain bases from which the guerrillas were operating
    • 7. perform a surgical operation:

      surgeons operated on on his jaw yesterday morning doctors refused to operate because of the risks involved
      Synonym : perform surgery, carry out an operation, intervene, put someone under the knife
  3. Variation

    • v.: verb: operate, 3rd person present: operates, gerund or present participle: operating, past tense: operated, past participle: operated