An operator is a person who runs a machine, equipment, or a vehicle. If you want to be a jackhammer operator some day, you might hope to work on a road crew of for a construction company.

An operator operates, or controls, something. You could be a radio operator, a heavy machinery operator, or even a telephone operator — or you can be the operator, or manager, of a business. If you start your own dog walking company, you can call yourself an "owner-operator." The Latin root of both operator and operate is operari, "to work," and "to cause."

Definitions of operator
  1. noun
    an agent that operates some apparatus or machine
    “the operator of the switchboard”
    synonyms: manipulator
    see moresee less
    John Luther Jones
    United States railroad engineer who died trying to stop his train from crashing into another train; a friend wrote a famous ballad describing the incident (1864-1900)
    Berna Eli Oldfield
    United States race driver who was the first to drive faster than a mile a minute (1878-1946)
    show 28 types...
    hide 28 types...
    company operator
    an operator who works for a company
    the operator of a motor vehicle
    elevator operator
    an operator of an elevator
    engine driver, engineer, locomotive engineer, railroad engineer
    the operator of a railway locomotive
    an operator of a hoist
    an operator of some vehicle or machine or apparatus
    the operator of streetcar
    radio operator
    someone who operates a radio transmitter
    a man who operates railroad switches
    telegraph operator, telegrapher, telegraphist
    someone who transmits messages by telegraph
    switchboard operator, telephone operator, telephonist
    someone who helps callers get the person they are calling
    bus driver, busman
    someone who drives a bus
    a man paid to drive a privately owned car
    designated driver
    the member of a party who is designated to refrain from alcohol and so is sober when it is time to drive home
    elevator girl
    a girl employed to operate an elevator
    elevator boy, elevator man, liftman
    a man employed to operate an elevator
    a licensed amateur radio operator
    a driver who causes his car's horn to make a loud honking sound
    kerb crawler
    someone who drives slowly along the curb seeking sex from prostitutes or other women
    automobilist, motorist
    someone who drives (or travels in) an automobile
    a motorist who owns the car that he/she drives
    automobile driver, race driver, racer
    someone who drives racing cars at high speeds
    road hog, roadhog
    a driver who obstructs others
    speed demon, speeder
    a driver who exceeds the safe speed limit
    a driver who follows too closely behind another motor vehicle
    cabby, cabdriver, cabman, hack driver, hack-driver, livery driver, taxidriver, taximan
    someone who drives a taxi for a living
    teamster, truck driver, trucker
    someone who drives a truck as an occupation
    test driver
    a driver who drives a motor vehicle to evaluate its performance
    type of:
    causal agency, causal agent, cause
    any entity that produces an effect or is responsible for events or results
  2. noun
    someone who owns or operates a business
    “who is the operator of this franchise?”
    see moresee less
    supermarketeer, supermarketer
    an operator of a supermarket
    type of:
    businessman, man of affairs
    a person engaged in commercial or industrial business (especially an owner or executive)
  3. noun
    a speculator who trades aggressively on stock or commodity markets
    see moresee less
    type of:
    plunger, speculator
    someone who risks losses for the possibility of considerable gains
  4. noun
    a shrewd or unscrupulous person who knows how to circumvent difficulties
    synonyms: hustler, wheeler dealer
    see moresee less
    one who uses secret influence (i.e. pulls wires or strings) for his own ends
    type of:
    opportunist, self-seeker
    a person who places expediency above principle
  5. noun
    (mathematics) a symbol or function representing a mathematical operation
    see moresee less
    linear operator
    an operator that obeys the distributive law: A(f+g) = Af + Ag (where f and g are functions)
    identity, identity element, identity operator
    an operator that leaves unchanged the element on which it operates
    type of:
    function, map, mapping, mathematical function, single-valued function
    (mathematics) a mathematical relation such that each element of a given set (the domain of the function) is associated with an element of another set (the range of the function)
DISCLAIMER: These example sentences appear in various news sources and books to reflect the usage of the word ‘operator'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of or its editors. Send us feedback
Word Family

Look up operator for the last time

Close your vocabulary gaps with personalized learning that focuses on teaching the words you need to know.

VocabTrainer -'s Vocabulary Trainer