1809, "worker, operator, artisan," from operative (adj.); sense of "secret agent, spy" is attested from 1930, probably from its use by the Pinkerton Detective Agency as a title for their private detectives (1905) to avoid the term detective.
"wonder-worker," 1715, from Medieval Latin thaumaturgus, from Greek thaumatourgos "wonder-working; conjurer," from thauma (genitive thaumatos) "wonder, astonishment; wondrous thing," literally "a thing to look at," from root of theater, + -ourgia "a working," from ergon "work" (from PIE root *werg- "to do").
Old English wryhta, wrihta (Northumbrian wyrchta, Kentish werhta) "worker," variant of earlier wyhrta "maker," from wyrcan "to work" (see work (v.)). Now usually in combinations (wheelwright, playwright, etc.) or as a surname. A common West Germanic word; cognate with Old Saxon wurhito, Old Frisian wrichta, Old High German wurhto.
Smith was the general term for a worker in metals, and wright for one who worked in wood, and other materials. Hence, in the later English period, smith (which, in Anglo-Saxon, when used without any characteristic addition, was understood as applying more particularly to the worker in iron,) became the particular name of a blacksmith, and wright of a carpenter, as it is still in Scotland. [Thomas Wright, "Anglo-Saxon and Old English Vocabularies," 1884]
late 14c. (from c. 1100 as a surname), "a worker in any sort of lead" (roofs, gutters, pipes), from Old French plomier "lead-smelter" (Modern French plombier) and directly from Latin plumbarius "worker in lead," noun use of adjective meaning "pertaining to lead," from plumbum "lead" (see plumb (n.)). The meaning focused 19c. on "workman who installs pipes and fittings" as lead pipes for conveying water and gas became the principal concern of the trade.
In U.S. history, in the Nixon administration (1969-74), it was the name of a special unit for investigation of "leaks" of government secrets.
1590s, "one who performs mechanical or surgical operations," agent noun from operate (v.) or from Late Latin operator "a worker." Meaning "one who carries on business shrewdly" is from 1828. Specific sense of "one who works a telephone switchboard" (1884) grew out of earlier meaning "one who works a telegraph" (1847).
father of Icarus in Greek mythology, builder of the Cretan labyrinth, from Latin Daedelus, from Greek Daidalos, literally "the cunning worker," from or related to daidallein "to work artfully, embellish," a word of disputed etymology. Beekes writes, "we should consider Pre-Greek origin." Related: Daedalian.
1530s, "head domestic, master or superintendent of the table in a mansion," from French maître d'hôtel, literally "house-master," from Old French maistre "master; skilled worker, educator" (12c.), from Latin magistrum (see magistrate). Sense of "hotel manager, manager of a dining room" is from 1890. Shortened form maître d' is attested from 1942; simple maitre in this sense is from 1899.
"migrant agricultural worker," especially (but not exclusively) one driven from farms in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl, 1938, short for U.S. state of Oklahoma.
"Okie use' ta mean you was from Oklahoma. Now it means you're a dirty son-of-a-bitch." [John Steinbeck, "The Grapes of Wrath," 1939]
1610s, "worker who mixes," agent noun from mix (v.). As a type of machine that mixes, from 1876. Sense of "person" as regards sociability (with a qualifying adjective) is by 1896; the meaning "troublemaker" is attested by 1938; the sense of "social gathering to mingle and get acquainted" dates from 1916.