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From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Operate \Op"er*ate\, v. i. [imp. & p. p. Operated; p. pr. & vb. n. Operating.] [L. operatus, p. p. of operari to work, fr. opus, operis, work, labor; akin to Skr. apas, and also to G. ["u]ben to exercise, OHG. uoben, Icel. [ae]fa. Cf. Inure, Maneuver, Ure.] 1. To perform a work or labor; to exert power or strength, physical or mechanical; to act. [1913 Webster] 2. To produce an appropriate physical effect; to issue in the result designed by nature; especially (Med.), to take appropriate effect on the human system. [1913 Webster] 3. To act or produce effect on the mind; to exert moral power or influence. [1913 Webster] The virtues of private persons operate but on a few. --Atterbury. [1913 Webster] A plain, convincing reason operates on the mind both of a learned and ignorant hearer as long as they live. --Swift. [1913 Webster] 4. (Surg.) To perform some manual act upon a human body in a methodical manner, and usually with instruments, with a view to restore soundness or health, as in amputation, lithotomy, etc. [1913 Webster] 5. To deal in stocks or any commodity with a view to speculative profits. [Brokers' Cant] [1913 Webster]