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[pir-oo-et] /ˌpɪr uˈɛt/
a whirling about on one foot or on the points of the toes, as in ballet dancing.
Dressage. a complete turn in which the horse uses its hind legs as a pivot.
verb (used without object), pirouetted, pirouetting.
to perform a pirouette; whirl, as on the toes.
1700-10; < French: a whirl, top, feminine of Middle French pirouet, equivalent to pirou- (cognate with Italian pirolo, diminutive of piro peg) + -et -et Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for pirouette
  • We must hold their hands every pirouette of the way.
  • They prance and pirouette with one wing extended as they forage, performing a dance replete with beauty and purpose.
  • Ask them to spin a pirouette or dance a tarantella, and they're in their element.
British Dictionary definitions for pirouette


a body spin, esp in dancing, on the toes or the ball of the foot
(intransitive) to perform a pirouette
Word Origin
C18: from French, from Old French pirouet spinning top; related to Italian pirolo little peg
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for pirouette

1706, from French pirouette "spinning top; pirouette in dancing," from Middle French pirouet "spinning top" (15c.), from Gallo-Romance root *pir- "peg, plug" (cf. Italian piruolo "peg top") + diminutive suffix -ette.


1822, from pirouette (n.) and also from French pirouetter. Related: Pirouetted; pirouetting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for pirouette

(French: "to whirl about"), ballet turn in place on one leg. The pirouette is often done in spectacular series, which women usually perform on toe (pointe) and men on the ball of the foot (demi-pointe). In a pirouette sur le cou-de-pied, the raised foot rests on the supporting ankle; in a pirouette a la seconde, or grande pirouette, it is extended in the second position at a 90 angle to the supporting leg. The leg may be held at the front (attitude), side (a la seconde, or grande pirouette), or back (arabesque and attitude). The body may turn toward the raised leg (en dehors: "outside," or "backward") or the supporting leg (en dedans: "inside," or "forward"). Four and five pirouettes are now commonly performed, and up to 14 have been executed by 20th-century dancers.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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