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[ri-sep-shuh-nist] /rɪˈsɛp ʃə nɪst/
a person employed to receive and assist callers, clients, etc., as in an office.
Theology. a person who advocates receptionism.
Origin of receptionist
1865-70; reception + -ist Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for receptionist
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The pretty girl, obviously the receptionist, looked up as Fraser approached and gave him a professional smile.

    Sentiment, Inc. Poul William Anderson
  • The receptionist did the things that receptionists do, then looked up at him again.

    Mercenary Dallas McCord Reynolds
  • The receptionist smiled icily at Tom, and then the smile vanished like a Martian polar cap.

    Get Out of Our Skies! E. K. Jarvis
  • Executive level, Kennon thought as he followed the receptionist's directions.

    The Lani People J. F. Bone
  • Fifteen minutes later, at the hospital, they sought unsuccessfully to pass a receptionist who sat at a desk in the lobby.

    Swamp Island Mildred A. Wirt
British Dictionary definitions for receptionist


a person employed in an office, hotel, doctor's surgery, etc, to receive clients, guests, or patients, answer the telephone, arrange appointments, etc
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 receptionist

"person hired to receive clients in an office," 1900, from reception + -ist. Originally in photography studios.

Let me not forget the receptionist -- generally and preferably, a woman of refined and gentle manners, well informed and specially gifted in handling people of varied dispositions. A woman especially who knows how to handle other women, and who can make herself beloved by the children who may visit the studio. A woman, also, who in a thoroughly suave and dignified way, knows just how to handle the young man of the period so that the photographer may be glad to have his business. What a power the receptionist is when properly chosen and trained. It is not too much to say that she can both make and destroy a business, if she has the amount of discretionary power given to her in some galleries. [John A. Tennant, "Business Methods Applied in Photography," "Wilson's Photographic Magazine," October 1900]
Earlier as an adjective in theology and law (1867).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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