From Medieval Latin āctuātus, perfect passive participle of āctuō (actuate, implement), from Latin āctus, perfect passive participle of agō (do, act).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈæktʃu.eɪt/, /ˈæktju.eɪt/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈæktʃu.eɪt/
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actuate (third-person singular simple present actuates, present participle actuating, simple past and past participle actuated)

  1. (transitive) To activate, or to put into motion; to animate.
    • (Can we date this quote by Johnson and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
      Wings, which others were contriving to actuate by the perpetual motion.
    • 1906 January–October, Joseph Conrad, chapter IV, in The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale, London: Methuen & Co., [], published 1907, OCLC 270548466; The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale (Collection of British Authors; 3995), copyright edition, Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1907, OCLC 1107573959, pages 68–69:
      I walk always with my right hand closed round the india-rubber ball which I have in my trouser pocket. The pressing of this ball actuates a detonator inside the flask I carry in my pocket. It's the principle of the pneumatic instantaneous shutter for a camera lens.
  2. (transitive) To incite to action; to motivate.
    • 1748, David Hume, Enquiries concerning the human understanding and concerning the principles of moral, 2. ed., London, Oxford University Press, 1973. § 11.
      A man in a fit of anger, is actuated in a very different manner from one who only thinks of that emotion.
    • 1712 January 2, Joseph Addison; Richard Steele, “SATURDAY, December 22, 1711 [Julian calendar]”, in The Spectator, number 255, London: J[acob] and R[ichard] Tonson, OCLC 1026609121; republished in Alexander Chalmers, editor, The Spectator; a New Edition, Carefully Revised, in Six Volumes: With Prefaces Historical and Biographical, volume 3, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, 1853, OCLC 191120697:
      Men of the greatest abilities are most fired with ambition; and, on the contrary, mean and narrow minds are the least actuated by it.

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  1. second-person plural present active imperative of āctuō