op·​er·​a·​tor | \ ˈä-pə-ˌrā-tər How to pronounce operator (audio) , ˈä-ˌprā- \

Definition of operator

1 : one that operates: such as
a : one that operates a machine or device
b : one that operates a business
c : one that performs surgical operations
d : one that deals in stocks or commodities
b : a shrewd and skillful person who knows how to circumvent restrictions or difficulties
3a : something and especially a symbol that denotes or performs a mathematical or logical operation
b : a mathematical function
4 : a binding site in a DNA chain at which a genetic repressor binds to inhibit the initiation of transcription of messenger RNA by one or more nearby structural genes

called also operator gene

— compare operon

Other Words from operator

operatorless adjective

Examples of operator in a Sentence

the operator of an automobile the operator of a nuclear power plant Call the operator for the phone number. Operator, please connect me with extension 123. She's quite an operator—no one else could have gotten them all to agree to the project.
Recent Examples on the Web Eager to create one-stop shipping, Mr. Watkins launched a trucking business and acquired Sea-Land Corp., an operator of container ships. James R. Hagerty, WSJ, 5 Aug. 2022 Bell called 311; an operator told him there was no record of any work being done on his block, along the north side of Greenmount Cemetery, and that an inspector would be sent out days later. Scott Dance, Baltimore Sun, 1 Aug. 2022 Police located the pickup at 1 a.m. the following morning – with help from Weeks, who gave the license plate to a friend that relayed it to an operator. oregonlive, 27 July 2022 Numerous verses endorse slavery, with some reading like an operator’s manual for how to regulate it. The Salt Lake Tribune, 19 July 2022 Apollo Funds invested $175 million in Summit Ridge Energy, an Arlington, Va.-based owner-operator of community solar assets. Anne Sraders, Fortune, 14 July 2022 An emergency 911 operator in Pennsylvania has been charged with manslaughter for not sending an ambulance to a home where a woman later died of internal bleeding. Lawrence Richard, Fox News, 11 July 2022 Dinos Trigonis, an independent tournament operator, caught a glimpse of Booker at a tournament in Indianapolis and invited him to Las Vegas last June for his Pangos all-American camp, which features many of the best 100 prospects in the country. New York Times, 6 July 2022 China’s Bytedance, operator of Douyin and Tiktok, has the largest video revenue in the region with a 2022 figure close to $7 billion. Patrick Frater, Variety, 24 July 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'operator.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of operator

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for operator

borrowed from Late Latin operātor "worker, producer," from operārī "to work, be efficacious" + Latin -tor, agent suffix — more at operate

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Time Traveler for operator

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The first known use of operator was in 1598

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Last Updated

8 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Operator.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/operator. Accessed 11 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for operator


op·​er·​a·​tor | \ ˈä-pə-ˌrā-tər How to pronounce operator (audio) \

Kids Definition of operator

1 : a person who manages or controls something a plow operator
2 : a person in charge of a telephone switchboard
3 : a person who is skillful at achieving things by persuasion or deception


op·​er·​a·​tor | \ ˈäp-(ə-)ˌrāt-ər How to pronounce operator (audio) \

Medical Definition of operator

1 : one (as a dentist or surgeon) who performs surgical operations
2 : a binding site in a DNA chain at which a genetic repressor binds to inhibit the initiation of transcription of messenger RNA by one or more nearby structural genes

called also operator gene

— compare operon


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