What word does your mother always say?


[roh-tuh-ree] /ˈroʊ tə ri/
turning or capable of turning around on an axis, as a wheel.
taking place around an axis, as motion.
having a part or parts that turn on an axis, as a machine.
noun, plural rotaries.
a rotary device or machine.
Chiefly Northeastern U.S. traffic circle.
Also called rotary converter. Electricity, synchronous converter.
(initial capital letter) Rotary Club.
Origin of rotary
1725-35; < Medieval Latin rotārius (adj.), equivalent to Latin rot(a) wheel + -ārius -ary
Related forms
unrotary, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for rotary
  • Pick a windless day and sow seed evenly, using a drop or rotary spreader.
  • rotary mowers and weed eaters are other good choices for weed control in larger areas.
  • It uses a rotary device which in turn rotates a propeller to move.
  • Two gilt bud vases, perpetually bursting with dried violets, partially concealed an old rotary phone.
  • In five years it may have acquired the quaint aura of a rotary phone.
  • There are also tiny rotary lawn mowers, beautiful little machines with blades sharp enough for shaving.
  • Then you have the steam rotary engine that will run mainly on water for steam and fuel.
  • With the right configuration of muscles it is even possible to produce rotary motion.
  • They rush forwards, waving and yelling soundlessly against the roar of rotary blades.
  • Out of habit, perhaps, he occasionally reaches for the rotary telephone on the desk.
British Dictionary definitions for rotary


of, relating to, or operating by rotation
turning or able to turn; revolving
noun (pl) -ries
a part of a machine that rotates about an axis
(US & Canadian) a roundabout (for traffic)
Word Origin
C18: from Medieval Latin rotārius, from Latin rota a wheel
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 rotary

1731, from Medieval Latin rotarius "pertaining to wheels," from Latin rota "a wheel, a potter's wheel; wheel for torture," from PIE root *roto- "to run, to turn, to roll" (cf. Sanskrit rathah "car, chariot;" Avestan ratho; Lithuanian ratas "wheel," ritu "I roll;" Old High German rad, German Rad, Dutch rad, Old Frisian reth, Old Saxon rath, Old Irish roth, Welsh rhod "carriage wheel"). The international service club (founded by Paul P. Harris in Chicago in 1905) so called from the practice of clubs entertaining in rotation. Hence Rotarian (1911).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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