1. a person employed in an apartment house, office building, school, etc., to clean the public areas, remove garbage, and do minor repairs; caretaker.
  2. Archaic. a doorkeeper or porter.
verb (used without object)
  1. to be employed as a janitor.

Origin of janitor

1575–85; < Latin jānitor doorkeeper, equivalent to jāni- (combining form of jānus doorway, covered passage) + -tor -tor
Related formsjan·i·to·ri·al [jan-i-tawr-ee-uh l, -tohr-] /ˌdʒæn ɪˈtɔr i əl, -ˈtoʊr-/, adjectiveun·der·jan·i·tor, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for janitorial

Contemporary Examples of janitorial

Historical Examples of janitorial

  • Besides, I was ignorant then of janitorial tyranny as the accepted code.

    The Van Dwellers

    Albert Bigelow Paine

  • We had not awakened as yet to the fulness of janitorial tyranny and power.

    The Van Dwellers

    Albert Bigelow Paine

  • Were they in some kind of a janitorial uniform so that you could tell that they were employees?

    Warren Commission (12 of 26): Hearings Vol. XII (of 15)

    The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy

British Dictionary definitions for janitorial


  1. Scot, US and Canadian the caretaker of a building, esp a school
  2. mainly US and Canadian a person employed to clean and maintain a building, esp the public areas in a block of flats or office building; porter
Derived Formsjanitorial (ˌdʒænɪˈtɔːrɪəl), adjectivejanitress, fem n

Word Origin for janitor

C17: from Latin: doorkeeper, from jānua door, entrance, from jānus covered way (compare Janus 1); related to Latin īre to go
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 janitorial

1869, from janitor + -ial.



1580s, "an usher in a school," later "doorkeeper" (1620s), from Latin ianitor "doorkeeper, porter," from ianua "door, entrance, gate," from ianus "arched passageway, arcade" (see Janus) + agent suffix -tor. Meaning "caretaker of a building" first recorded 1708.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper