activate

To activate something is to start it off, trigger it, or set it in motion. A villain in a late-night movie might say, “Activate the robot chickens!” And then you’re free to activate your remote and change the channel.

To activate something is to make it active. It’s not just for bad guys — when you activate a credit or library card, you can start using it. When a coach activates a player on a sports team, the player enters the game. If someone activates a bomb, you should run. If the pancakes you’re cooking burst into flames, you’ll probably activate the smoke alarm. And you should run.

Definitions of activate
  1. verb
    put in motion or move to act
    synonyms: actuate, set off, spark, spark off, touch off, trigger, trigger off, trip
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    type of:
    initiate, pioneer
    take the lead or initiative in; participate in the development of
  2. verb
    make active or more active
    activate an old file”
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    Antonyms:
    deactivate, inactivate
    make inactive
    types:
    reactivate
    activate (an old file) anew
    type of:
    alter, change, modify
    cause to change; make different; cause a transformation
  3. verb
    aerate (sewage) so as to favor the growth of organisms that decompose organic matter
    synonyms: aerate
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    type of:
    alter, change, modify
    cause to change; make different; cause a transformation
  4. verb
    make more adsorptive
    activate a metal”
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    type of:
    alter, change, modify
    cause to change; make different; cause a transformation
  5. verb
    make (substances) radioactive
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    type of:
    alter, change, modify
    cause to change; make different; cause a transformation
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