a combination of -ate1 and -or2 that forms nouns corresponding to verbs ending in -ate1,denoting a human agent (agitator; mediator; adjudicator) or nonhuman entity, esp. a machine (incubator; regulator; vibrator) performing the function named by the verb. Cf. -tor, -or2.
[ < L -ator, orig. not a suffix, but the termination of nouns formed with -tor -TOR from verbs whose stems ended in -a-; in English, Latin loanwords ending in -ator have been reanalyzed as derivatives of the past participles in -tus (see -ATE1) and a suffix -or (see -OR2), and many new English nouns derived from English verbs based on Latin past participles (e.g., VIBRATOR from VIBRATE)]

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