Definition of actuate in English:


See synonyms for actuate

Translate actuate into Spanish

transitive verb

[with object]
  • 1Cause (a machine or device) to operate.

    ‘the pendulum actuates an electrical switch’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The landing gear was hydraulically actuated and was fully retractable.’
    • ‘Because the pushrod doesn't actuate the valve, no combustion takes place.’
    • ‘Finally, the device driver for the appropriate device translates the commands to analog signals that actuate the device.’
    • ‘In automatic mode it actuates the hydraulic valves that control the blade.’
    • ‘The control unit also has a receiver electrically connected to the relay switch and is adapted to receive a control signal for actuating the relay switch.’
    • ‘The guns are actuated by a three-way switch on the spade grip of the stick.’
    • ‘These are further split into two circuits, each of which owns or shares responsibilities for actuating flight controls and operating other hydraulic components.’
    • ‘The Saddle is fitted with yoke-mounted roll-screw and nut elevating gear actuated by handwheels on either side of the saddle.’
    • ‘The valves are actuated via drag arms from twin, contra-rotating camshafts.’
    • ‘Would you believe the switch was actuated by lifting up the horn button!’
    • ‘The hydraulic lifter actuates one end of the roller finger, while the other end actuates the valve.’
    • ‘When we actuated the gear lever, only the right main gear went down and locked into position.’
    • ‘Applying a voltage between the electrodes and the mobile plate actuates the mirror.’
    • ‘As the engine was lowered, the lanyard had actuated a valve that drove the hoist to its stowed position.’
    • ‘Levers can incorporate interlocks, requiring the user to actuate a release mechanism before he or she can move the lever.’
    • ‘He chopped the left throttle to the off position, actuated the left engine fire button, and turned the left engine master switch off.’
    • ‘Within the device, a diaphragm is actuated pneumatically, electrically, or magnetically, and it pumps blood into the aorta or pulmonary artery.’
    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
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  • 2Cause (someone) to act in a particular way; motivate.

    ‘the defendants were actuated by malice’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The motive which actuates a peace officer in making a demand is not a relevant consideration when the demand has been acceded to.’
    • ‘Concurrent with these changes, we are witnessing a fundamental examination of what underlies and actuates the character of who we are as intelligence professionals.’
    • ‘The protection might, however, be illusory if the onus lay on him to prove that he was actuated solely by a sense of the relevant duty or a desire to protect the relevant interest.’
    • ‘Yes, that is looking at ‘political’ even on a narrow view, that is, as what might ultimately actuate voters in exercising rights under sections 7, 24 or 128 of the Constitution.’
    • ‘Nevertheless if the claimant proves that the defendant was actuated by malice this defence will fail.’
    • ‘Proof by the claimant that the defendant was actuated by express malice removes the privilege.’
    • ‘He misses the point, and I would put this down to his customary sloppiness if it wasn't that, in his other misrepresentations of my published views, he seems to be actuated by malice as well.’
    • ‘Could a jury properly directed, and seeking dutifully to comply with the relevant directions, conscientiously reach a conclusion that the applicants were actuated by malice or not?’
    • ‘Fitzwood's case is that when the trustee made its decision… it was actuated by malice -’
    • ‘Such naivety was perhaps to be expected of a newly industrial America actuated by evangelical religion and optimistic crusades for social reform.’
    • ‘Twenty percent of the damages were found to be attributable to the laying of the charges for which no damages were recoverable because of the findings the defendants' conduct was not actuated by malice.’
    • ‘My chums weren't actuated by a desire to impose some superior code of behaviour on others; their motivation was purely selfish.’
    motivate, stimulate, move, drive, rouse, stir, stir up, fire, fire up, arouse
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/ˈak(t)SHəˌwāt/ /ˈæk(t)ʃəˌweɪt/


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’; actuate (sense 1) dates from the mid 17th century.