activate

verb

ac·​ti·​vate ˈak-tə-ˌvāt How to pronounce activate (audio)
activated; activating

transitive verb

: to make active or more active: such as
a(1)
: to make (something, such as a molecule) reactive or more reactive
(2)
: to convert (something, such as a provitamin) into a biologically active derivative
b
: to make (a substance) radioactive
c
: to treat (a substance, such as carbon or alumina) so as to improve adsorptive properties
d(1)
: to set up or formally institute (an organized group, such as a military unit) with the necessary personnel and equipment
(2)
: to put (an individual or unit) on active duty

intransitive verb

: to become active
activation noun
activator noun

Example Sentences

Touch the screen to activate the system. activate and then deactivate a mechanism The camera is activated by pushing a button. The bomb was activated by remote control. Sunlight activates a chemical reaction in the plant's leaves. vitamins that activate the growth of new cells The President has activated the reserves. See More
Recent Examples on the Web But just as Matisse worked hard to activate the negative space in his 1930s works, something about our present-day politics activates the historical background to this exhibition. Sebastian Smee, Washington Post, 10 Nov. 2022 One reason: The bran diet induced a beneficial shift in gut bacteria toward species that produce short-chain fatty acids that might activate receptors in the kidneys and blood vessels in a way that benefits blood pressure regulation. Julie Stewart, Men's Health, 30 Aug. 2022 The pursuing agent deactivated his emergency equipment before seeing an unmarked Benson Police Department vehicle ahead of him activate its emergency lights in an effort to stop the suspect vehicle. José Ignacio Castañeda Perez, The Arizona Republic, 10 Aug. 2022 Some Democratic strategists have argued that the Dobbs ruling would activate voters in an otherwise impossible way for a party with a president whose approval numbers are under water in a cycle where the historical precedent is with Republicans. Daniel Strauss, The New Republic, 2 Aug. 2022 So the researchers suggested that using THC frequently could activate that receptor in a way that leads to inflammation in blood vessels, which in turn can accelerate a buildup of plaque in the arteries that can lead to a heart attack. NBC News, 30 Apr. 2022 To that end, patients also score points, accompanied by lights and dings, as in video games, in order to activate the reward centers in their brains. New York Times, 26 Apr. 2022 The ability to selectively activate different segments of the ribs in order to breathe while consuming large prey would also help conserve energy. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 24 Mar. 2022 Minyon Moore, a veteran Democratic strategist and political director for former President Bill Clinton, will lead the efforts to activate outside advocacy groups in support of the nominee. Phil Mattingly, CNN, 2 Feb. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'activate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

active entry 1 + -ate entry 4, probably as adaptation of French activer, going back to Middle French, derivative of actif active entry 1

First Known Use

1624, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of activate was in 1624

Dictionary Entries Near activate

Cite this Entry

“Activate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/activate. Accessed 28 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

activate

verb

ac·​ti·​vate ˈak-tə-ˌvāt How to pronounce activate (audio)
activated; activating
1
: to make active
2
: to make (as molecules) more chemically active
3
: to make (a substance) give off radioactive particles, give off light at low temperatures, be easily affected by light, or carry an electric charge under the influence of light or other electromagnetic radiation
4
: to treat (as carbon or alumina) so as to improve the amount of adsorption
5
: to place on active military duty
activate the reserves
activation noun
activator noun

Medical Definition

activate

transitive verb

ac·​ti·​vate ˈak-tə-ˌvāt How to pronounce activate (audio)
activated; activating
: to make active or more active: as
a
: to convert into a biologically active derivative or form
activated plasminogen
b
: to make biologically or molecularly active
activate protein synthesis
The [spinal] cord also contains neuronal circuits … that can be activated by incoming sensory signals without input from the brain … John W. McDonald et al., Scientific American
c
: to make (a substance) radioactive
activation noun

More from Merriam-Webster on activate

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