I'm discussing a project where tasks require someone to review a list of items and mark an action associated with each one. When writing the project task lists I'm trying to say, "Note the associated action item with each item on this list", but that seems unnecessarily verbose. I'm hoping someone can recommend a single word that means "note associated action".

After looking at words like "annotate" and "instantiate" I'd like to say something similar to "Actionate this list". Is there a single verb I could use without making something up?

  • Why not qualify this list (with regard to which items are at what state of completion)?
    – Davo
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 19:13
  • What's wrong with "action"? Is there then a list of actions, e.g., Order parts, inspect, install, test?
    – Xanne
    Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 3:14
  • Maybe you need "approve action"?
    – Xanne
    Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 3:15
  • Probably "authorize"
    – Xanne
    Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 3:31
  • Can you give some examples? To specify the relationship between the list items and the actions. Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 14:06

1 Answer 1


The term operationalize is used for the general sense of taking something "fuzzy" (conceptual) and defining it in operational terms (how will you know it when you see it? How do you expect it to be accomplished?).

You have a list of tasks that sound like generic descriptions for pieces of the project. Associating them with specific actions defines them operationally -- exactly what is meant by the task, the scope of what is entailed, what action will accomplish the task, how you will determine that it has been completed.

"Operationalize" is used in a variety of specialties, and the definition in each specialty is slightly different, but the basic meaning is essentially the same. See for example Oxford Dictionary, #2, or this discussion in Explorable.com.

  • Huh, I have normally understood the term "operationalise" to be in the sense of "to make part of a regular process" (ie, part of the operations of an organisation, rather than a project.). You do something once in a kind of prototype way, then you operationalise it to make it routine. Commented May 8, 2020 at 10:56

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