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[jan-i-ter] /ˈdʒæn ɪ tər/
a person employed in an apartment house, office building, school, etc., to clean the public areas, remove garbage, and do minor repairs; caretaker.
Archaic. a doorkeeper or porter.
verb (used without object)
to be employed as a janitor.
Origin of janitor
1575-85; < Latin jānitor doorkeeper, equivalent to jāni- (combining form of jānus doorway, covered passage) + -tor -tor
Related forms
[jan-i-tawr-ee-uh l, -tohr-] /ˌdʒæn ɪˈtɔr i əl, -ˈtoʊr-/ (Show IPA),
underjanitor, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for janitor
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Of course both the toys kept very still as soon as the janitor looked at them.

  • When accidentally struck by the janitor's broom, he gives off a cloud of dust.

    The Devil's Dictionary Ambrose Bierce
  • Ezekiel Bassett, the janitor, having extinguished the last lamp, had emerged from the door and was locking up.

    Keziah Coffin Joseph C. Lincoln
  • They called the janitor and expostulated volubly, but all to no effect.

    A Woman for Mayor Helen M. Winslow
  • Gradually we could get it down to where the company would be wax, with the exception of a janitor with a feather duster.

    Remarks Bill Nye
British Dictionary definitions for janitor


(Scot & US, Canadian) the caretaker of a building, esp a school
(mainly US & Canadian) a person employed to clean and maintain a building, esp the public areas in a block of flats or office building; porter
Derived Forms
janitorial (ˌdʒænɪˈtɔːrɪəl) adjective
janitress, noun:feminine
Word Origin
C17: from Latin: doorkeeper, from jānua door, entrance, from jānus covered way (compare Janus1); related to Latin īre to go
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
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Word Origin and History for janitor

1580s, "an usher in a school," later "doorkeeper" (1620s), from Latin ianitor "doorkeeper, porter," from ianua "door, entrance, gate," from ianus "arched passageway, arcade" (see Janus) + agent suffix -tor. Meaning "caretaker of a building" first recorded 1708.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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