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, especially a machine (incubator; regulator; vibrator ) performing the function named by the verb.
Compare -tor, -or2.

< Latin -ātor, orig. not a suffix, but the termination of nouns formed with -tor -tor from verbs whose stems ended in -ā-; in English, Latin loanwords ending in -ātor 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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World English Dictionary
suffix forming nouns
a person or thing that performs a certain action: agitator; escalator; radiator
[from Latin -ātor; see -ate1-or1]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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