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 The Tier Credits will activate higher offer levels in the program. cleveland, 27 Nov. 2022 Readers who wish to continue to read Parade after Nov. 13, 2022, need to activate their eNewspaper account. oregonlive, 12 Nov. 2022 This impotent response led to an accumulation of antibody-virus immune complexes that, in turn, activate exacerbating immune responses, including inflammation. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, 2 Nov. 2022 The square would activate Grand Avenue with new commercial space for Family Promise, Java Dock and other commercial tenants in the area. Alex Groth, Journal Sentinel, 20 Oct. 2022 The Jets need to activate Brown from IR by 4 p.m. Saturday to clear him to play against the Dolphins. Dennis Waszak Jr., Hartford Courant, 7 Oct. 2022 The Jets need to activate Brown from IR by 4 p.m. Saturday to clear him to play against the Dolphins. BostonGlobe.com, 7 Oct. 2022 To activate Action mode, there’s a toggle on the upper left corner with a person running. José Adorno, BGR, 4 Oct. 2022 Additionally, elephants' p53 copies activate in response to varying molecular triggers and so respond to damaged cells differently, which likely gives an edge when detecting and weeding out mutations. Rachel Nuwer, Scientific American, 8 Sep. 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 8 Dec. 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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