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Does a pump "operate" or "run"?
Does a pump motor "operate" or "run"?

Or are there better verbs which describe the functioning of these devices?

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    A pump can be operated and when it is in operation the pump motor runs and the pump pumps. – Jim Apr 3 '15 at 15:23
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    Either is valid. And a pump can also pump. – Hot Licks Apr 3 '15 at 17:02
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    Both run and operate are ok. They are from different registers. "Run" is more colloquial informal. "Operate" is more technical. Which is better depends on the context of speech and which register is more appropriate. – Kosmorova Moo Apr 3 '15 at 18:28
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It would be useful if you gave sample sentences of what interests you. There are many ways to describe the operation of a pump.

For example:

The pump hums with quiet efficiency.

The pump whines as the load increases.

The pump pushes the liquid from the lower to higher level.

A pump draws the water from the well.

The pump boosts the pressure of the water from the firetruck to the fire fighter's nozzle.

There are several other verbs that could be used with the word "pump".

Words like "run" and "operate" does not really say much about the use or function of a pump.

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    Good point made by your examples. – Mike Apr 4 '15 at 3:21

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