adjective op·er·a·tive \ˈä-p(ə-)rə-tiv, ˈä-pə-ˌrā-\

: ready for use : capable of being used

: most important

Full Definition of OPERATIVE

a :  producing an appropriate effect :  efficacious
b :  most significant or essential <the operative word in a phrase>
:  exerting force or influence :  operating
a :  having to do with physical operations (as of machines)
b :  working <an operative craftsman>
:  based on or consisting of an operation <operative dentistry>
op·er·a·tive·ly adverb
op·er·a·tive·ness noun

Examples of OPERATIVE

  1. The factory must pass inspection before it becomes operative.
  2. The telephone system is now fully operative.
  3. If I go, I will bring a salad. If, however, is the operative word, since I am not sure that I can go.

First Known Use of OPERATIVE

15th century



: a person who does secret work for a government or political organization

: a person who does work that involves using tools, operating machinery, etc.

Full Definition of OPERATIVE

:  operator: as
a :  artisan, mechanic
b :  a secret agent
c :  private detective
d :  a person who works toward achieving the objectives of a larger interest <political operatives>

Examples of OPERATIVE

  1. <CIA operatives take terrible risks to find out the secrets of foreign countries.>
  2. <set in the 1930s, the novel is about a washed-out operative working for a third-rate detective agency>

First Known Use of OPERATIVE

circa 1810
Medical Dictionary


adjective op·er·a·tive \ˈäp-(ə-)rət-iv, ˈäp-ə-ˌrāt-\

Medical Definition of OPERATIVE

:  of, relating to, involving, or resulting from an operation <operative treatment> <operative mortality rates>


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