a masklike device, usually of gauze, worn over the mouth, or nose and mouth, to prevent the inhalation of noxious substances or the like.
British, gas mask.
Medicine/Medical. an apparatus to produce artificial respiration.

1785–95; < Latin respīrāt(us) (see respiration) + -or2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
respirator (ˈrɛspəˌreɪtə)
1.  an apparatus for providing long-term artificial respiration
2.  Also called: gas mask a device worn over the mouth and nose to prevent inhalation of noxious fumes or to warm cold air before it is breathed

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

1836; see respire. Invented by British surgeon Julius Jeffreys (1800-1877).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

respirator res·pi·ra·tor (rěs'pə-rā'tər)

  1. A device that supplies oxygen or a mixture of oxygen and carbon dioxide for breathing, used especially in artificial respiration. Also called inhalator.

  2. A screenlike device worn over the mouth or nose or both to protect the respiratory tract.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Example sentences
Since the treatment necessitated inserting a respirator, the medical staff
  placed me in a drug induced coma.
He quickly went down to inspect the damage, wearing a respirator as the tunnel
  had filled with helium gas.
There is already a name of a disease the cleanup workers are getting, and bp
  tells them they are fired if they wear a respirator.
He was on a respirator for weeks to help his breathing.
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