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

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 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Instead growers sold grapes to the local co-operative, which would vinify them and sell them on to large brands. Fortune, "Wine Drinkers Should Pay More Attention to This Lesser-Known Spot in Burgundy," 10 Aug. 2019 Tweet of the day My phone is absolutely exploding with texts from Republican operatives reacting to the retirement. NBC News, "Rep. Will Hurd's surprise retirement is big, bad news for the GOP," 2 Aug. 2019 These include machine and factory operatives, manual laborers and service occupations. 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 In the past week family members, political operatives, and friends have asked me why the cacophony has grown so deafening this time, after decades of possible pretexts for such protests. Adrian Carrasquillo, The New Republic, "Puerto Ricans Are Tired of Being Powerless," 25 July 2019 Everyone's favorite teen sleuthing squad is back, taking on Russian operatives, local corruption, and the latest supernatural evil to emerge from the Upside Down in the third season of Netflix's Stranger Things. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Flay your mind: Stranger Things S3 just might be the show’s best season yet," 15 July 2019 But the recent discovery of a trove of files from the deceased Republican operative and redistricting expert Thomas Hofeller may force the Court to address the issue. Cristian Farias, The New Yorker, "Is There Racist Intent Behind the Census Citizenship Question?," 26 June 2019 Since Mueller indicted Manafort, however, Trump and the White House have sought distance from the disgraced political operative. Abigail Tracy, The Hive, "The Odds That Robert Mueller Breaks Paul Manafort Just Went Up," 5 June 2018 Ten million Americans saw the ads, Facebook estimates, and 146 million Americans, or nearly half of the U.S. population, may have been reached by content from Russian operatives on Facebook and Instagram, also owned by Facebook. Erin Kelly, USA TODAY, "Thousands of Facebook ads bought by Russians to fool U.S. voters released by Congress," 10 May 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

12 Aug 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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