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

The operative words here are neutrality and balance. Jeff Dunn, Ars Technica, "Guidemaster: The best gaming headsets for your console or gaming rig," 21 Aug. 2019 The Hassan Whiteside deal was necessary, but any operative gain from it is dubious. Ira Winderman, sun-sentinel.com, "ASK IRA: Is One Last Dance 2.0 on the way?," 10 Aug. 2019 This isn't the first time she's raised the eyebrows of the Democratic operative class. NBC News, "Inside Warren's early-state sleeper campaign," 9 Aug. 2019 Hispanic men were overrepresented in machine operative and manual labor jobs in every state except Hawaii. Eric Hoyt, The Conversation, "Why Trump’s stoking of white racial resentment is effective – but makes all working-class Americans worse off," 29 July 2019 And the message is that the binary-gender scheme, which we were taught in biology class in seventh grade, is no longer operative. Osita Nwanevu, The New Yorker, "Conservative Nationalism Is Trumpism for Intellectuals," 21 July 2019 Worse, in Germany an army of public-sector and co-operative banks tussle for the custom of savers and companies. The Economist, "Recognising reality at Deutsche Bank," 11 July 2019 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In the Senate race alone, spending could reach $60 million, said David Farmer, a Democratic operative in the state. Brian Slodysko, BostonGlobe.com, "Outside money flows into race for Susan Collins’s Senate seat," 21 Aug. 2019 The week before Paris’ liberation, however, Colonel Rol-Tanguy requisitioned the shelter and transformed it into a Resistance hub, installing a telephone exchange capable of bypassing tapped lines and welcoming operatives in need of a hiding place. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Paris Basement Used as WWII Resistance Headquarters Transformed Into Museum Centerpiece," 19 Aug. 2019 Demers, a longtime Democratic political operative in the state who served as the co-chair of President Barack Obama’s 2008 New Hampshire campaign, has donated $2,450 to Booker’s presidential effort, per FEC filings. NBC News, "Booker endorsement demonstrates tough balancing act for candidates," 2 Aug. 2019 Among Democratic operatives in Washington, Harrison’s Senate race is also inspiring more affectation than gung-ho support. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, "Lindsey Graham’s “Achilles Heel”," 9 July 2019 Political operatives in both parties have sought ways to derail rival campaigns with dirty tricks. Dallas News, "Mischievous Republicans donate to keep love guru Marianne Williamson alive in Democratic primary," 3 July 2019 But also, during the course of my reporting, I was told that Kim Jong-nam had been an informant for the CIA, and had been providing information to American intelligence operatives in Southeast Asia. CBS News, "Transcript: Anna Fifield talks with Michael Morell on "Intelligence Matters"," 19 June 2019 One year later, in New York, Molly (Thompson) becomes the first operative in Men In Black's history to simply walk into the building and ask for a job. Anne Cohen, refinery29.com, "Even Tessa Thompson & Chris Hemsworth Can't Make MIB: International Memorable," 13 June 2019 The powerful convictions of Longmeyer and a string of other Democratic operatives in that scheme were the result of an investigation by the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office that began before Bevin launched his investigation. Tom Loftus, The Courier-Journal, "3 years, 0 criminal charges and $550K later, Bevin is still investigating Steve Beshear," 12 June 2019

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

9 Sep 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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