Etymology
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operate (v.)

c. 1600, "to be in effect, perform or be at work, exert force or influence," a back-formation from operation (q.v.), or else from Latin operatus, past participle of operari "to work, labor, toil, take pains" (in Late Latin "to have effect, be active, cause"). The surgical sense of "perform some manual act upon the body of a patient," usually with instruments, is attested from 1799. Meaning "to work machinery" is from 1864 in American English. Related: Operated; operating. Operating system in the computer sense is from 1961.

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Definitions of operate

operate (v.)
direct or control; projects, businesses, etc.;
Synonyms: run
operate (v.)
perform as expected when applied;
Synonyms: function / work / go / run
operate (v.)
handle and cause to function;
do not operate machinery after imbibing alcohol
Synonyms: control
operate (v.)
perform a movement in military or naval tactics in order to secure an advantage in attack or defense;
Synonyms: manoeuver / maneuver / manoeuvre
operate (v.)
keep engaged;
Synonyms: engage / mesh / lock
operate (v.)
perform surgery on;
The doctors operated on the patient but failed to save his life
Synonyms: operate on
From wordnet.princeton.edu