Definition of actuate in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈaktʃʊeɪt/


1 [with object] Make (a machine or device) operate: the pendulum actuates an electrical switch
More example sentences
  • This circuit prevents the operator from actuating the tool except when both hands are on the throttle levers.
  • The moving cantilever can actuate another device or move a cam or wheel to generate rotary motion.
  • Pilot controls consisted of dual wheel yokes and the landing gear was extended and retracted by a hydraulic pump actuated by a hand lever.
activate, operate, switch on, turn on, start up, set going, get going, start off, trigger off, trigger, trip, set in motion, initiate, initialize, energize, animate
2Make (someone) act in a particular way; motivate: the defendants were actuated by malice
More example sentences
  • On appeal to the Court of Appeal, the defendant successfully argued that his belief that everything he said was true made it impossible as a matter of law to find that he was actuated by malice.
  • That he served with Kennedy's example in mind indicates he was actuated more by self-aggrandisement than altruism.
  • Here I want to clear one thing, that it is not vanity that has actuated me to adopt the doctrines of atheism.
prompt, incite, spark off, influence, impel, spur on, urge, goad
rare activate



Pronunciation: /aktʃʊˈeɪʃ(ə)n/
Example sentences
  • After initiating brake actuation, the aircraft yawed to the right, and he ceased braking action to analyze the situation.
  • A number of other options are coming down the line, including voice actuation of some of the ancillary controls, mostly communication-related.
  • One and four actuations of each inhaler were evaluated.


Example sentences
  • The 1 million-pound project is powered by electronic actuators, ensuring that visitors' experiences are as authentic as possible, as the motion follows the action on the screen.
  • The new simulator recreates the speed and force of an explosive shock wave using computer-controlled hydraulic actuators.
  • At the same time, the control system instantaneously commands the servos in the joint actuators to relax slightly.


Late 16th century: from medieval Latin actuat- 'carried out, caused to operate', from the verb actuare, from Latin actus (see act). The original sense was 'carry out in practice', later 'stir into activity, enliven'; sense 1 dates from the mid 17th century.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: ac¦tu|ate

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