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actuate (verb) to make a machine or a device work; to cause to behave in a particular manner.
Turning on a switch may actuate a machine. In time bombs, for example, a clock actuates the exploding device, that is, the clock makes the bomb explode at the time set for the explosion. Envy may make a person behave badly towards you, in which case they are actuated by envy. A feeling of neglect may make a person behave nastily towards others. Then they are actuated by that feeling.
- She was actuated by his ill-treatment of her to decide to divorce him.
- The trolley was actuated by some worker touching the controls accidentally, and it moved down the shaft killing some of the workers at the bottom of the pit.