the operative word

the operative word

The word in a statement that is most important in understanding its intended or true meaning. The police released a statement saying they have not yet filed any charges. The operative word being "yet."
See also: operative, word
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

the ˌoperative ˈword

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 also: operative, word
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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References in periodicals archive ?
The operative word is "externalization" which he defines, generally, as moving something from the inside to the outside.
Glen Peters, Paisley REGARDING the letter "Taxi Dilemma", the operative word is "Parked".
Ego being the operative word when it came to Jeremy Thorpe - and Hugh Grant displayed that in buckets.
Whirlwind romances do work - "work" being the operative word. Malcolm Strang email
The operative word is "moderate," defined as two or fewer standard drinks a day for men and no more than one a day for women.
Says: THE operative word here is "AN" Apple website.
Whether that happens is another matter but I think there is a genuine feeling that should they get a marquee signing early on, then it could be a fruitful summer for fans and the club - 'should' being the operative word there.
"Lost" is indeed the operative word for this violent fairy tale about a fractured family trying to survive among the ruins of a city overrun by thugs, sexual predators and other demons, nearly all of them cribbed from the surreal cinematic imaginations of other, vastly more intuitive filmmakers.
The operative word is "their hopes" and not "our hopes." For Jackson, he's not yet part of the team-the mess-he did not take part in creating.
but the operative word used to describe her quest--diet--is surrounded by negative connotations that parents do not want their children to take to heart.
Obviously 'who' being the operative word as he is currently starring as the said Doctor.
Open is the operative word. And openness is the strategy of Polycom to help companies maximise their investments in unified communications (UC).
of Malta, Malta), by the operative word "critical," and bring together insights from critical theory, critical hermeneutics, discourse analysis, comparative studies, policy sociology, critical multiculturalism, postcolonial studies, post-structuralism, social anthropology, historical and critical ethnography, political economy, cultural studies, and critical studies.
But that lucky lot will be in for a treat because "scorch" really is the operative word for a car that pumps out 335bhp from its twin-turbo six-cylinder 3.0-litre engine.