op·er·a·tor | \ ˈä-pə-ˌrā-tər , 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

2a : mountebank, fraud

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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Some states are concerned about how online sports wagering could affect the business of existing casino operators or worsen gambling addictions. Chris Kirkham, WSJ, "States Weigh Bets on Mobile Sports Gambling," 13 July 2018 Then there’s Cape Cultural Tours, an operator dedicated to Aboriginal traditions and experiences led by Wadandi guides. Christina Liao, Vogue, "Why You Should Be Going to Australia for Fresh Black Truffles," 12 July 2018 The state relies on inspections done by an accreditation agency to determine whether an operator merits a state license. Mary Jo Pitzl, azcentral, "What's going on in there? Questions arise about migrant kids' welfare," 27 June 2018 Indeed, the prospect of filling what were once slow weekends is the real hope among Atlantic City casino operators, rather than the potential tax revenue sports wagering would yield for the state or the city. Patrick Mcgeehan, New York Times, "Can Sports Betting Do for Atlantic City What Donald Trump Couldn’t?," 25 June 2018 But the wait time Friday for an operator was two hours. Tony Bizjak, sacbee, "DMV visit times can top five hours. Here are ways to avoid the worst hassles," 17 June 2018 The majority of Connecticut’s congressional delegation Tuesday called for broadening an ongoing probe of how the federal government is handling a proposal by the state’s two tribal casino operators to jointly establish a casino in East Windsor. Kenneth R. Gosselin, courant.com, "State's Congressional Delegation Presses For Broader Probe Of Federal Government's Handling Of Casino Proposals," 13 June 2018 The plot, which involved the detonation of an electrical tower, had casino operators nervous — might that actually work? — but the publicity proved irresistible. Seth Abramovitch, The Hollywood Reporter, "Hollywood Flashback: How Sinatra and the Men of 'Ocean's 11' Made Vegas "Pop" in 1960," 31 May 2018 Workers last week voted to authorize a strike as disputes over workplace training, wages and other issues have kept the union and casino operators from agreeing on new contracts. Editors, USA TODAY, "Pompeo talks U.S.-North Korea summit, NBA Finals: 5 things you need to know Thursday," 31 May 2018

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.

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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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Phrases Related to operator

crane operator

smooth operator

Statistics for operator

Last Updated

11 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for operator

The first known use of operator was in 1598

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More Definitions for operator



English Language Learners Definition of operator

: a person who uses and controls something (such as a machine, device, or business) : someone who operates something

: a person whose job is to help to connect telephone calls : a person who is in charge of a telephone switchboard

: a person who is able to easily achieve things especially by persuading people or by being dishonest


op·er·a·tor | \ ˈä-pə-ˌrā-tər \

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 \

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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