View synonyms for operator


[ op-uh-rey-ter ]


  1. a person who operates a machine, apparatus, or the like:

    a telegraph operator.

  2. a person who operates a telephone switchboard, especially for a telephone company.
  3. a person who manages a working or industrial establishment, enterprise, or system:

    the operators of a mine.

  4. a person who trades in securities, especially speculatively or on a large scale.
  5. a person who performs a surgical operation; a surgeon.
  6. Mathematics.
    1. a symbol for expressing a mathematical operation.
    2. a function, especially one transforming a function, set, etc., into another:

      a differential operator.

  7. Informal.
    1. a person who accomplishes goals or purposes by devious means; faker; fraud.
    2. a person who is adroit at overcoming, avoiding, or evading difficulties, regulations, or restrictions.
    3. a person who is extremely successful with or smoothly persuasive to potential sexual or romantic partners.
  8. Genetics. a segment of DNA that interacts with a regulatory molecule, preventing transcription of the adjacent region.


/ ˈɒpəˌreɪtə /


  1. a person who operates a machine, instrument, etc, esp, a person who makes connections on a telephone switchboard or at an exchange
  2. a person who owns or operates an industrial or commercial establishment
  3. a speculator, esp one who operates on currency or stock markets
  4. informal.
    a person who manipulates affairs and other people
  5. maths any symbol, term, letter, etc, used to indicate or express a specific operation or process, such as Δ (the differential operator)


/ ŏpə-rā′tər /

  1. Mathematics.
    A function, especially one from a set to itself, such as differentiation of a differentiable function or rotation of a vector. In quantum mechanics, measurable quantities of a physical system, such as position and momentum, are related to unique operators applied to the wave equation describing the system.
  2. A logical operator.
  3. Genetics.
    A segment of chromosomal DNA that regulates the activity of the structural genes of an operon by interacting with a specific repressor.

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Other Words From

  • pre·oper·ator noun
  • self-oper·ator noun

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Word History and Origins

Origin of operator1

First recorded in 1590–1600; from Late Latin, equivalent to operā(rī) “to work, effect” ( operate ) + Latin -tor noun suffix ( -tor )

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Example Sentences

I later went to New York for three years to train nuclear operators in Saratoga Springs.

The plaintiffs in the new cases are essentially arguing that streaming services have more in common with cable TV operators than they do with the Internet.

From Fortune

It turned out that not all service operators had made the effort to tell users in advance.

That task falls to professional operators, experts in an individual telescope’s complex operations who still work in control rooms located on observatory mountaintops.

An operator answering the phone referred the Blade to the direct number of the department’s Chief of Police, Andrew Block.

Just because two pieces of malware share a common ancestry, it obviously does not mean they share a common operator.

Wright approved one of the wells after the operator agreed to bring it into compliance, according to the letter.

Teague replied: “I have to allow an operator or plugger a way to appeal when he believes our requirements are unreasonable.”

In 1881, along came Bailey, operator of another circus, and two circuses joined to give rise to the first three-ring spectacle.

He had a steady job as a machine operator, and owned his own home.

It was round, with a small, rectangular projection for the operator's controls and calculator.

Again it was empty except for the operator, a tow-headed kid with a Racing Form tucked in a side pocket.

The operator who was speculating in a small way himself smiled when he read the telegram.

And as if in answer to their thoughts, the operator straightened, with a little gesture of hopelessness.

At last the wire opened again, and the operator went once more to his desk.


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