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 Atlantic Coast Utilities was again cited for employing an unlicensed operator. BostonGlobe.com, 6 June 2021 Level three is where a drone starts to get a destination from an operator and begins to fly itself, sensing and avoiding obstacles, at least in some limited conditions. John Koetsier, Forbes, 29 May 2021 The rise in cases has also led an international expedition operator to abandon its attempt to scale Mount Everest from the Nepal side. CNN, 16 May 2021 Since 2016, when Maersk set out to become an integrated logistics operator, the conglomerate has sold its oil-and-tanker businesses and invested tens of millions of dollars in warehousing and customs-clearing services globally. Costas Paris, WSJ, 5 May 2021 Carlsen told the operator he’d been chained up, and freed himself using a butcher knife to cut off the leather strap that bound his wrists. Joseph Jaafari, Rolling Stone, 9 Apr. 2021 Jail employees called for help 26 minutes after the lights went out and told the 911 operator that inmate were fighting. Sarah Nelson, The Indianapolis Star, 26 Mar. 2021 The result is a more resilient operator with lower breakeven costs. Dan Eberhart, Forbes, 25 May 2021 The pavilion, said Collins, whose company started on the project as the general contractor and is now a partner and will be the operator, is opening in stages. Amy Lavalley, chicagotribune.com, 21 May 2021

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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Time Traveler for operator

Time Traveler

The first known use of operator was in 1598

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Statistics for operator

Last Updated

9 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Operator.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/operator. Accessed 13 Jun. 2021.

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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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