actuate

To actuate is to put into motion. The "act" in actuate can remind you of this word's meaning — to put into action. A lever might actuate a pump, or malice might actuate a crime.

Coming to us from the Latin word actus, which means "to act," actuate's meaning is simpler than it sounds — it just means to set in motion or activate some kind of motion. Think of one of those complex Rube Goldberg mouse traps; you know, the one where the boot kicks the ball that drops on the plank that tips over the ladder which rings a bell that cracks an egg that knocks over the cage onto the unsuspecting mouse. The boot actuates the whole shebang.

Definitions of actuate
  1. verb
    put in motion or move to act
    actuate the circuits”
    synonyms: activate, set off, spark, spark off, touch off, trigger, trigger off, trip
    see moresee less
    type of:
    initiate, pioneer
    take the lead or initiative in; participate in the development of
  2. verb
    give an incentive for action
    synonyms: incite, motivate, move, prompt, propel
    affect, impress, move, strike
    have an emotional or cognitive impact upon
    move
    arouse sympathy or compassion in
    see moresee less
    type of:
    cause, do, make
    give rise to; cause to happen or occur, not always intentionally
Word Family