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

Even the radio operators had trouble relaying information. Denise Coffey, Courant Community, "Amateur Radio Operators Practice For Emergencies," 3 July 2018 This is the first time the tour operator will be offering winter flights to Jamaica. Sallee Ann Ruibal, Cincinnati.com, "3 headlines you may have missed: Pulitzer plans, hitting the green and spring break plans," 26 June 2018 In the shifting landscape, recycling advocates, operators and municipal officials say consumers need to become better educated about what to recycle, which can vary from town to town. Author: David Goldstein, Anchorage Daily News, "Cities scramble to rewrite rules on recycling after China restricts ‘foreign garbage’," 3 July 2018 In an email to members and fans Thursday, Milwaukee Film, the operator of the Milwaukee Film Festival, said the Oriental, 2230 N. Farwell Ave. Chris Foran, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee Film to reopen Oriental Theatre with Spike Lee's 'BlacKkKlansman,' Alexander McQueen film," 28 June 2018 But insurance is often not required and airboat operators have been otherwise unregulated. Elizabeth Koh, miamiherald, "FWC sets new requirements for airboat operators, spurred by death of UM grad," 22 June 2018 The Aquarius rescued 630 people while on patrol off the coast of Libya over the weekend, the ship's operators SOS Méditerranée and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said. Saskya Vandoorne, CNN, "Migrant ship Aquarius reveals a fractured Europe," 13 June 2018 Hotel operators are in the process of voting to assess themselves a fee that will generate $40 million toward the construction of a second 40,000-square-foot ballroom at the convention center. Ryan Lillis, sacbee, "Costs soar to upgrade Sacramento's convention district. Here's why city says it's worth it," 8 June 2018 Back to science, soon During the last two weeks, operators have been trying to bring this third, previously balky gyro back online. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "NASA brings a Hubble gyro back to life after a seven-year hibernation," 22 Oct. 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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Statistics for operator

Last Updated

10 Apr 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

What made you want to look up operator? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not to be persuaded, moved, or stopped

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