ac·​tu·​ate | \ˈak-chə-ˌwāt, -shə-\
actuated; actuating

Definition of actuate 

transitive verb

1 : to put into mechanical action or motion The pump is actuated by the windmill.

2 : to move to action a decision actuated by greed

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Other Words from actuate

actuation \ˌak-​chə-​ˈwā-​shən, -​shə-​ \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for actuate

move, actuate, drive, impel mean to set or keep in motion. move is very general and implies no more than the fact of changing position. moved the furniture actuate stresses transmission of power so as to work or set in motion. turbines actuated by waterpower drive implies imparting forward and continuous motion and often stresses the effect rather than the impetus. a ship driven aground by hurricane winds impel is usually figurative and suggests a great motivating impetus. a candidate impelled by ambition

Examples of actuate in a Sentence

The pump is actuated by the windmill. a light actuated by a motion detector

Recent Examples on the Web

Butterfly doors are unlocked and actuated by a fingerprint sensor and a biometric facial-recognition system hidden on the B-pillar. Andrew Wendler, Car and Driver, "Genesis Essentia Concept: High-Tech Coupe Dreams," 29 Mar. 2018 The rear side-door handles on the midrange EX trim and above now have a button to actuate the sliding doors, and the 17-, 18-, and 19-inch wheels all get makeovers. Tony Markovich, Car and Driver, "2019 Kia Sedona: Still Fetching, Still Offers a Lot," 29 Mar. 2018 One company taking a different kind of approach is Toshiba, which has created a partnership with startup S-muscle Co. to develop a robotic hand actuated by artificial muscles made of rubber and fabric. Daniela Hernandez, WSJ, "Robots Are Learning to Handle With Care," 11 Mar. 2018 Every cylinder in the engine can be deactivated via a mechanism that prevents the cam from actuating that cylinder's valves. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "Clever new cylinder control gives big MPG boost—and it’s ready to roll," 15 Feb. 2018 Össur's Symbionic Leg eliminates hip hiking through a simple robotic twitch: The toe actuates upward during each step, performing what's called dorsiflexion. Erik Sofge, Popular Mechanics, "Smart Bionic Limbs are Reengineering the Human," 28 May 2012 Six computers in the trunk translated inputs from the PS4 controller and actuated the GT-R/C's steering, brakes, throttle, and transmission. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "Nissan modified this GT-R to be driven with a PS4 controller," 11 Oct. 2017 As Bergum rushed to shut down the engine and feather the propeller, the crew actuated the single-shot engine fire extinguisher. Eric Tegler, Popular Mechanics, "Eight decades after its first flight, the DC-3 remains an aviation legend.," 8 Aug. 2017 The flames are fed by a 10-gallon liquid propane tank, which is secured in the snail’s neck and will be actuated by reins attached to a pair of globe valves pictured here. Lewis Wallace, WIRED, "Snail Car Is Born When Math, Dreams Collide," 29 Aug. 2008

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

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First Known Use of actuate

1641, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for actuate

borrowed from Medieval Latin āctuātus, past participle of āctuāre "to actualize," verbal derivative of Latin āctus act entry 1

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Dictionary Entries near actuate


actuaries' table





act up

Statistics for actuate

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Time Traveler for actuate

The first known use of actuate was in 1641

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English Language Learners Definition of actuate

: to make (a machine or electrical device) move or operate

: to cause someone to do something or to act in a certain way

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More from Merriam-Webster on actuate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with actuate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for actuate

Nglish: Translation of actuate for Spanish Speakers

Comments on actuate

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a knickknack or trinket

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