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

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 Anna Wintour prefaced in this video—think being the operative word. Emily Farra, Vogue, "“Everything Is for Everybody”: Anna Wintour Shares Her Top Takeaways From Paris Fashion Week," 4 Oct. 2018 The critically acclaimed drama centers around M16 operative Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh) and assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer). Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Where to Watch and Stream 'Killing Eve' (Because You Can't on Netflix)," 4 Jan. 2019 Jakob Wernerman, operative head of the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, told the Associated Press. Umair Irfan, Vox, "In Sweden, Latvia, and Greece, wildfires are spreading amid a brutal heat wave.," 25 July 2018 On Friday, Ginsburg, who is 85, underwent surgery to remove the nodules, both of which proved cancerous upon post-operative testing. Ezra Klein, Vox, "Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the case for 18-year Supreme Court terms," 26 Dec. 2018 In fact, the game started its life as a co-operative survival game where players had to work together to build shelters and fight off zombie hordes. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "The year in Fortnite," 18 Dec. 2018 Closer to home In ordering that He's work be shut down, Chinese authorities indicate that these standards are operative there. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Scientists, ethicists slam decisions behind gene-edited twins," 30 Nov. 2018 Neglecting to perform a pre-operative physical examination and a medical history should also be cause for concern, Pazmiño said. Daniel Chang, miamiherald, "State charges Brazilian butt lift doctor with malpractice — two years after patient died | Miami Herald," 23 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

That was before the falling-out with the West over the killing by Saudi operatives of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October, which U.S. intelligence concluded was probably ordered by Prince Mohammed. Summer Said, WSJ, "Saudi Crown Prince Pivots to Asia from Critical West," 16 Feb. 2019 Undecided voters at this point are largely Democrats who are waiting to see how the race between the two Democrats shapes up, said Bob Shrum, a former Democratic operative who is the director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC. Sarah D. Wire, latimes.com, "New poll confirms Feinstein has big lead in Senate race, but nearly half of voters are undecided," 20 June 2018 Her boss was Matthew Hiltzik, widely known as a Democratic PR operative who worked for both Hillary Clinton and film producer Harvey Weinstein. Diane Herbst, PEOPLE.com, "Who Is Hope Hicks? All About the White House Communications Director Dubbed Trump's 'Real Daughter'," 27 Feb. 2018 Many analysts are overlooking the problem of the army of political operatives who were part of the breakdown of the country over the past two decades and now oppose Mr. Maduro. Mary Anastasia O’grady, WSJ, "Power and Money in Venezuela," 10 Feb. 2019 The indictment of a dozen Russian intelligence operatives offered new details about how Russia hacked into the communications of Democratic officials during the 2016 election. Nathaniel Zelinsky, Vox, "The case for not publishing hacked emails," 14 July 2018 And while Trump has been criticized by members of his own party for his handling of the case of the death of a Saudi journalist working for The Washington Post, operatives say the matter appears to be having little impact on voters. Lisa Mascaro, The Seattle Times, "Senate slipping away as Dems fight to preserve blue wave," 23 Oct. 2018 One Republican operative who was approached by the administration for a job last year but was not interested said the constant controversies surrounding Trump have repelled many of his peers in GOP circles. Sarah Westwood, CNN, "White House struggles to replace departing staff," 15 June 2018 Also blocked by Parson was Aaron Baker, a lobbyist who is employed by the consulting firm of veteran Republican operative Jeff Roe. Tessa Weinberg And Jason Hancock, kansascity, "Greitens, Parson blocked people on social media. Parson says he’s stopping now," 14 June 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

6 May 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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