"petition or complaint signed in a circle to disguise the order in which names were affixed and prevent ringleaders from being identified," 1730, originally in ref. to sailors and frequently identified as a nautical term. As a kind of tournament in which each player plays the others, it is recorded from 1895.
A petition or other document signed by several persons in sequence, so that no one can tell who was the first to sign it. For example, We decided to send a round robin to management to protest the new rules about work hours. This term originally referred to a grievance presented by seamen to their captain, called round because of the circular sequence of names, but the source of robin has been lost.
[ Early 1700s
In sports, a tournament in which each player or team plays against all of the others in turn. For example, The club always holds a tennis round robin on the Fourth of July.
[ Late 1800s