a person employed to receive and assist callers, clients, etc., as in an office.
Theology. a person who advocates receptionism.

Origin of receptionist

First recorded in 1865–70; reception + -ist Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for receptionist

Contemporary Examples of receptionist

Historical Examples of receptionist

  • The receptionist did the things that receptionists do, then looked up at him again.


    Dallas McCord Reynolds

  • Martha Ryan, the receptionist, glanced knowingly at the closed door.


    Roger Phillips Graham

  • Executive level, Kennon thought as he followed the receptionist's directions.

    The Lani People

    J. F. Bone

  • Seeing Brad and Dan, the receptionist regarded them with cold disapproval.

    Dan Carter Cub Scout

    Mildred A. Wirt

  • Brad spoke to the receptionist, who had been watching the Cubs with intent interest.

    Dan Carter Cub Scout

    Mildred A. Wirt

British Dictionary definitions for receptionist



a person employed in an office, hotel, doctor's surgery, etc, to receive clients, guests, or patients, answer the telephone, arrange appointments, etc
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 receptionist

"person hired to receive clients in an office," 1900, from reception + -ist. Originally in photography studios.

Let me not forget the receptionist -- generally and preferably, a woman of refined and gentle manners, well informed and specially gifted in handling people of varied dispositions. A woman especially who knows how to handle other women, and who can make herself beloved by the children who may visit the studio. A woman, also, who in a thoroughly suave and dignified way, knows just how to handle the young man of the period so that the photographer may be glad to have his business. What a power the receptionist is when properly chosen and trained. It is not too much to say that she can both make and destroy a business, if she has the amount of discretionary power given to her in some galleries. [John A. Tennant, "Business Methods Applied in Photography," "Wilson's Photographic Magazine," October 1900]

Earlier as an adjective in theology and law (1867).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper