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

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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

Soon, Lime may no longer be the sole operator of dockless scooters in Milwaukee. Marisa Peryer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Two more e-scooter operators, Bird and Spin, poised to hit the streets," 10 Aug. 2019 The Port Authority and terminal operator of the State Pier announced in May a $93 million public-private partnership with a wind energy producer on a plan to expand and upgrade the pier. Stephen Singer, courant.com, "Another exit at the Connecticut Port Authority as second board member resigns over public spending on photos," 9 Aug. 2019 But an increasingly bloody battle among operators of big-box stores claimed Orchard Supply as a fresh victim in 2018. George Avalos, The Mercury News, "Ace Hardware will open in East Bay, South Bay old Orchard Supply sites," 8 Aug. 2019 The new program, called theSmallSat Rideshare Program, will offer operators of tiny satellites more flexibility when launching to space. Loren Grush, The Verge, "SpaceX will now offer rocket rideshares tailored solely to small satellites," 5 Aug. 2019 Officer Schwausch initiated a traffic stop and made contact with the operator of the vehicle. Houston Chronicle, "Bellaire Police Department weekly report," 5 Aug. 2019 The operator of the car was located on Jefferson, arrested and charged with drunken driving, refusing a breathalyzer, stopping in the roadway, open container and obstructing official business. Cheryl Higley, cleveland.com, "Runaway paver crashes into car: North Ridgeville police blotter," 2 Aug. 2019 The operator of a Eugene day care where a 9-month-old infant stopped breathing and later died last year was arrested Monday in connection with the death. oregonlive.com, "Eugene day care operator accused of manslaughter in 2018 baby death," 23 July 2019 And in 2009, operators of the Japanese orbiter Kaguya (SELENE) guided the aging spacecraft into the ground near the southern Gill crater. Michael Greshko, National Geographic, "India's historic moon mission launches toward lunar south pole," 22 July 2019

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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Statistics for operator

Last Updated

14 Aug 2019

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 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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More from Merriam-Webster on operator

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with operator

Spanish Central: Translation of operator

Nglish: Translation of operator for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of operator for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about operator

Comments on operator

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a period when something is suspended

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