ac·​tu·​ate | \ ˈak-chə-ˌwāt How to pronounce actuate (audio) , -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 How to pronounce actuate (audio) , -​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 But the comment could easily have been about white supremacists’ ability to actuate political change through the co-option of mainstream conservative institutions, as well as the government itself. Hannah Gais, The New Republic, 18 May 2021 Many of the Logitech gaming keyboards feature low-profile designs with keys that actuate quickly and can be manipulated to create custom controls. Edmund Torr, Popular Science, 19 Feb. 2021 Similarly, the automatic transmission is actuated by four simple buttons that are easy to actuate by feel. Tribune News Service, cleveland, 3 Oct. 2020 The extra-large thumb lever is also easy to actuate, so even an uncoordinated stab isn’t really an issue. Popular Science, 14 Sep. 2020 Without power, the 911's outside door handles no longer actuate the latch, even though the car was previously unlocked. Dave Vanderwerp, Car and Driver, 22 Aug. 2020 Hurst realized that when a finger touches a screen composed of numerous thin resistive layers with thin gaps between them, a computer can read the location of the resulting voltage and actuate the command. Larry Printz, Ars Technica, 24 June 2020 Themely spends a lot of the video explaining the physical controls in the cockpit—switches and levers that actuate functions that on a more modern fifth-generation fighter might instead be primarily accessed via touchscreen. Lee Hutchinson, Ars Technica, 30 June 2020 Carbon-ceramic brake rotors are standard, and the Tributo's stoppers require a strong leg to actuate. Scott Oldham, Car and Driver, 29 May 2020

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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Time Traveler for actuate

Time Traveler

The first known use of actuate was in 1641

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Cite this Entry

“Actuate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for actuate



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

More from Merriam-Webster on actuate

Nglish: Translation of actuate for Spanish Speakers


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