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From real (in real estate) and -or. Coined by Charles N. Chadbourn in 1916, on the model of Latin agent nouns ending in -tor (such as actor, creator), to refer to real-estate professionals who are members of the National Association of Realtors, a trade association in the United States.[1] Equivalent to realt(y) +‎ -or.


  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈɹi(ə)l.təɹ/, /ˈɹi(ə)l.tɔɹ/, [ˈɹilə.tɚ]
  • Audio (Southern England):(file)
  • Audio (US):(file)



realtor (plural realtors)

  1. (Canada, US) A person or business that sells or leases out real estate, acting as an agent for the property owner.
    • 1919, Mr. Shannon, U.S. Housing Corporation. Hearings Before a Subcommittee, United States Senate:
      It was composed of an engineer, if I remember correctly, a town planner, a realtor, and occasionally an architect []
    • 1922, Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt, New York, N.Y.: Harcourt, Brace and Company, →OCLC:
      First place, we ought to insist that folks call us ‘realtors’ and not ‘real-estate men.’ Sounds more like a reg’lar profession.
    • 1975, Jerzy Kosiński, Cockpit, Grove Press, published 1998, page 189:
      Intrigued by the prospect of an additional commission, the realtor hurriedly assured me he foresaw no problem in obtaining the lease.
    • 1997, Douglas A. Gray, Canadian home buying made easy, second edition, page 72:
      The terms agent, broker, and realtor are often used interchangeably.
    • 2003, Gary Andrew Dresden, Confessions of a Gynecologist, iUniverse, page 111:
      The realtor was like a carnivore, ready to spring. He was originally from New York and he seemed like the kind of guy who could smell a deal.
    • For more quotations using this term, see Citations:realtor.






  1. ^ realtor, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2016.

Further reading

  • Jacob Zimmerman v. Nat'l Ass'n of Realtors, Cancellation Nos. 92032360, 92040141, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (March 31, 2004), discussing the claim that "realtor" is a generic term, and including 10 dictionary definitions of the term (pp. 17-19).