verb (used with object), ac·ti·vat·ed, ac·ti·vat·ing.

  1. to make active; cause to function or act.
  2. Physics.
    1. to render more reactive; excite: to activate a molecule.
    2. to induce radioactivity.
  3. to aerate (sewage) in order to accelerate decomposition of impure organic matter by microorganisms.
  4. Chemistry.
    1. to make (carbon, a catalyst, molecules, etc.) more active.
    2. to hasten (reactions) by various means, as heating.
  5. to place (a military unit or station) on an active status in an assigned capacity.

verb (tr)

  1. to make active or capable of action
  2. physics to make radioactive
  3. chem
    1. to increase the rate of (a reaction)
    2. to treat (a substance, such as carbon or alumina) so as to increase powers of adsorption
  4. physiol to prepare by arousal (the body or one of its organs (e.g. the brain)) for action
  5. to purify (sewage) by aeration
  6. US military to create, mobilize, or organize (a unit)

1906, noun of action from activate (v.).


1620s; see active + -ate (2). Related: Activated; activating.

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