operative

adjective
op·​er·​a·​tive | \ ˈä-p(ə-)rə-tiv How to pronounce operative (audio) , ˈä-pə-ˌrā-\

Definition of operative

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : producing an appropriate effect : efficacious operative techniques
b : most significant or essential the operative word in a phrase the operative facts
2 : exerting force or influence : operating an operative statute
3a : having to do with physical operations (as of machines) operative skills
b : working an operative craftsman
4 : based on or consisting of an operation operative dentistry The disease may require operative treatment.

operative

noun

Definition of operative (Entry 2 of 2)

: operator: such as
b : a secret agent
d : a person who works toward achieving the objectives of a larger interest political operatives

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Other Words from operative

Adjective

operatively adverb
operativeness noun

Examples of operative in a Sentence

Adjective

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

Noun

CIA operatives take terrible risks to find out the secrets of foreign countries. set in the 1930s, the novel is about a washed-out operative working for a third-rate detective agency
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Get our daily newsletter Some hospitals no longer perform elective surgeries, such as hip and knee replacements, because so few patients are willing to take the risk of post-operative infection. The Economist, "Attack of the superbugs: July 2041," 5 July 2019 These artifacts include ore cars, a mining train, an ore crushing mill and wooden headframes that once towered over operative mine shafts, according to Donna Childress with Lake County Tourism. Jeanine Barone, The Know, "Ride your bike on these Colorado railroad routes without fear of being run over by a train," 2 July 2019 But back in 2015, the U.S. government already knew that Page had passed documents to a Russian intelligence operative two years earlier. Chuck Todd, NBC News, "What’s the bigger story — the Russia probe or the investigative practices?," 2 Feb. 2018 Bolduc has recruited media consultant Josh McElveen and will be advised by Republican campaign operative Matt Mowers, a former campaign staffer for Trump's 2016 election and State Department senior official. Eleanor Watson, CBS News, "Former Gen. Don Bolduc announces Senate run in New Hampshire as Republican," 24 June 2019 The operative document following the 1967 war is U.N. Resolution 242. WSJ, "If Golan to Israel Is OK, How About Crimea to Russia?," 29 Mar. 2019 The two are sitting side by side recently in a small playroom at Riley, near where Harper works in the pre- and post-operative care unit. Maureen C. Gilmer, Indianapolis Star, "They saved her baby; now this mom is saving others," 13 May 2018 Perhaps only Germany’s market, with its hundreds of municipal and co-operative banks, is similarly fragmented. The Economist, "Digital technology will strengthen America’s biggest retail banks," 15 June 2019 Meanwhile, the Alaska Constitution says 50 percent can amend the charter, so the 60 percent rule isn't operative legally, either. Author: Charles Wohlforth | Opinion, Anchorage Daily News, "Manufactured doubts obscure a no-brainer on ML&P sale," 11 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The lawmaker said deceptive social media postings in the 2016 election, which federal intelligence agencies say were planted by Russian operatives, show the looming threat posed by deceptive video. Dustin Gardiner, SFChronicle.com, "California lawmaker targets fake candidate videos after doctored Pelosi footage," 24 June 2019 Trump's statement also is at odds with FBI Director Christopher Wray's comment during his confirmation hearings that politicians and their operatives should report to the FBI attempts by foreign governments to interfere in US elections. Doug Criss, CNN, "5 things to know for June 13: Trump, David Ortiz, Grand Canyon, tanker attacks, Vayu," 13 June 2019 On Tuesday, Biden rolled out a round of endorsements, including an operative who proved pivotal to Barack Obama’s Iowa victory in 2008. Philip Elliott, Time, "Joe Biden Is Ahead in the Iowa Polls. But His Rivals Are Ahead on Organizing," 11 June 2019 From the screenwriter of Jurassic Park and a couple dozen other movies comes Cold Storage, a thriller that follows Pentagon bioterror operative Roberto Diaz as he's faced with a deadly being from his past. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "Ars To-Be-Read: Our most anticipated books for the second half of 2019," 8 June 2019 Brown is accused of taking $4,000 in bribes from a lobbyist acting as an undercover operative for law enforcement. Chris Brennan, Philly.com, "Nancy Pelosi pals around with convicted tax dodger at Dems fundraiser in Philly," 13 July 2018 This at a time when party operatives were worse that a dirty U.S. Congressmen, gift-expectant, institutionally incapable of hearing anything at all. Robert Sullivan, Vogue, "Meeting Gorbachev, Werner Herzog's Documentary, Is a Historical Thriller for Today," 27 May 2019 The series stars Sandra Oh as Eve Polastri, an M16 operative who attempts to track down a dangerous assassin named Villanelle (played by Jodie Comer). Stacey Leasca, Glamour, "Everything We Know So Far About Killing Eve Season 3," 8 Apr. 2019 Monday's summit took place three days after a grand jury indicted 12 Russian intelligence operatives on charges related to cyberattacks on Democratic organizations during the 2016 election campaign. Samuel Chamberlain, Fox News, "Trump says Mueller probe has 'driven a wedge' between US and Russia, says Putin calls it a 'shame'," 2 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'operative.' 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 operative

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

circa 1810, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for operative

Adjective

Middle English operatif "active, working," borrowed from Late Latin operātīvus, from operātus, past participle of operārī "to work, be efficacious" + Latin -īvus -ive — more at operate

Noun

derivative of operative entry 1

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Statistics for operative

Last Updated

15 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for operative

The first known use of operative was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for operative

operative

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of operative

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: ready for use : capable of being used
: most important

operative

noun

English Language Learners Definition of operative (Entry 2 of 2)

chiefly US : a person who does secret work for a government or political organization
: a person who does work that involves using tools, operating machinery, etc.

operative

adjective
op·​er·​a·​tive | \ ˈäp-(ə-)rət-iv How to pronounce operative (audio) , ˈäp-ə-ˌrāt- How to pronounce operative (audio) \

Medical Definition of operative

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

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Comments on operative

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