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

The new crew leased Cafe Marmotte from former operators Maria and Stratis Katsaros, the restaurant’s second set of Denver owners. Josie Sexton, The Know, "Ex-Mizuna crew taking over Cafe Marmotte in Washington Park — to turn it into an Italian restaurant," 3 Sep. 2019 In order to get on the list, restaurant owners and operators can apply by answering 25 questions about their business practices. Priscilla Totiyapungprasert, azcentral, "These 3 metro Phoenix restaurants are being recognized as leaders in sustainability," 2 Sep. 2019 Skilled craftsmen are even tougher to locate, especially millwrights, pipelayers, heavy equipment operators, truck drivers, concrete workers, carpenters and bricklayers. Aldo Svaldi, The Denver Post, "Colorado’s construction industry finds no relief from labor shortages," 28 Aug. 2019 This is especially true in Europe, where Mr Grijpink counts 26 big mobile operators, covering a similar-sized territory as America’s four big providers (soon to become three). The Economist, "Vodafone’s search for the G-spot," 22 Aug. 2019 The city is one of the top markets for video gambling in Illinois — and the city’s largest video gambling operator, Tap Room Gaming, made approximately $24 million in 2018. Logan Jaffe, ProPublica, "How a Video Gambling Company Helped Bankroll Local Politicians," 16 Aug. 2019 In December, the three entities entered into a 10-year lease, in which the Kings and ASEC will be the rink’s new operators. Anthony Clark Carpio, Burbank Leader, "Burbank, Los Angeles Kings officials celebrate grand reopening of ice center," 16 Aug. 2019 The grill's operator, Robert Parris, 20, refused to serve them. Tom Verducci, SI.com, "The Hard, Historic Roads That Lead to Baseball's Magic Number: .400," 8 Aug. 2019 UbiquitiLink plans to offer this capability to mobile network operators, and then these companies can decide how to distribute it to the consumer — perhaps for an extra fee or baked into an existing deal. Loren Grush, The Verge, "Space startup aims to launch thousands of satellite ‘cell towers’ that connect to the average phone," 2 Aug. 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

11 Sep 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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one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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