See more synonyms for regulator on
  1. a person or thing that regulates.
  2. Horology.
    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.
  3. Machinery.
    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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. a device for maintaining a constant gas pressure.
  7. (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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for regulator

manager, director, switch, valve, governor, thermostat

Examples from the Web for regulator

Contemporary Examples of regulator

Historical Examples of regulator

  • 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.

  • 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


  1. a person or thing that regulates
  2. the mechanism, including the hairspring and the balance wheel, by which the speed of a timepiece is regulated
  3. a timepiece, known to be accurate, by which others are timed and regulated
  4. any of various mechanisms or devices, such as a governor valve, for controlling fluid flow, pressure, temperature, voltage, etc
  5. 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

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