[kuh n-troh-ler]
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  1. an employee, often an officer, of a business firm who checks expenditures, finances, etc.; comptroller.
  2. a person who regulates, directs, or restrains.
  3. British Aeronautics. a dispatcher.
  4. a regulating mechanism; governor.
  5. Also called control unit, processor. Computers. the key component of a device, as a terminal, printer, or external storage unit, that contains the circuitry necessary to interpret and execute instructions fed into the device.
  6. a remote piece of hardware used to direct or control an electronic device: a video-game controller.

Origin of controller

1350–1400; Middle English countrollour < Anglo-French countrero(u)llour, Middle French contrerolleur, equivalent to contrerolle duplicate roll (see control) + -eur, -our < Latin -ōr- -or2 or -ātōr- -ator
Related formscon·trol·ler·ship, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for controller


  1. a person who directs, regulates, or restrains
  2. Also called: comptroller a business executive or government officer who is responsible for financial planning, control, etc
  3. the equipment concerned with controlling the operation of an electrical device
Derived Formscontrollership, noun
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

Word Origin and History for controller

late 14c., from Anglo-French contrerolleour (late 13c.), Old French contrerelleor (Modern French contrôleur), from Medieval Latin contrarotulator, agent noun from *contra-rotulare (see control (v.)). Mechanical sense is from 1867.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper