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[reg-yuh-ley-ter] /ˈrɛg yəˌleɪ tər/
a person or thing that regulates.
  1. an adjustable device in a clock or a watch for making it go faster or slower.
  2. a master clock, usually of great accuracy, against which other clocks are checked.
  1. a governor mechanism for regulating the flow of fuel, steam, etc., to an engine in order to maintain constant speed under varying load or resistance.
  2. a valve for regulating the pressure of flowing gas or liquid to maintain a predetermined pressure.
  3. any of various mechanisms for maintaining a temperature, a level of liquid in a tank, etc.
Electricity. a device for maintaining a designated characteristic, as voltage or current, at a predetermined value, or for varying it according to a predetermined plan.
a device on scuba equipment for regulating the rate at which compressed air is fed through a breathing tube in proportion to the depth of water.
a device for maintaining a constant gas pressure.
(initial capital letter) American History.
  1. a member of any of several bands or committees in North Carolina (1767–71), formed to resist certain abuses, as extortion by officials.
  2. (in newly settled areas) a member of any band or committee organized to preserve order before the establishment of regular legal authority.
Origin of regulator
First recorded in 1645-55; regulate + -or2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for regulator
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Work thus became the great law, the regulator of the living universe.

    Doctor Pascal Emile Zola
  • I said you had been to have a talk with Scott about 'regulator;' was I far off the mark?

    Roland Cashel Charles James Lever
  • He insisted on taking back the watch, which ever after he used as a regulator.

    Captains of Industry James Parton
  • She is the regulator, the main-spring, the center around which all else revolves.

  • But the regulator had the start of him, and the pursuit was useless.

    In School and Out Oliver Optic
British Dictionary definitions for regulator


a person or thing that regulates
the mechanism, including the hairspring and the balance wheel, by which the speed of a timepiece is regulated
a timepiece, known to be accurate, by which others are timed and regulated
any of various mechanisms or devices, such as a governor valve, for controlling fluid flow, pressure, temperature, voltage, etc
Also called regulator gene. a gene the product of which controls the synthesis of a product from another gene
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for regulator

1650s, agent noun in Latin form from regulate. In English history, from 1680s; in American history, from 1767, applied to local posses that kept order (or disturbed it) in rural regions. As a mechanical device or clock used to set the time of other pieces, from 1758.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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