Definition of operative adjective from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary

     

    operative

     adjective
    adjective
    NAmE//ˈɑpərət̮ɪv//
     
    , NAmE//ˈɑprət̮ɪv//
     
     
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  1. 1[not usually before noun] ready to be used; in use synonym functional This law becomes operative immediately. The station will be fully operative again in January.
  2. 2[only before noun] (medical) connected with a medical operation operative treatment see also postoperative
  3. Idioms
    the operative word
     
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    used to emphasize that a particular word or phrase is the most important one in a sentence I was in love with her—“was” being the operative word.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: operative