a song in which a phrase, line, or the like, is continually repeated.
the music for such a song.
a dance in a circle; round dance.

1565–75; alteration (influenced by lay4) of Middle French rondelet, diminutive of rondel roundel Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
roundelay (ˈraʊndɪˌleɪ)
1.  Also called: roundel a slow medieval dance performed in a circle
2.  a song in which a line or phrase is repeated as a refrain
[C16: from Old French rondelet a little rondel, from rondel; also influenced by lay4]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1573, from M.Fr. rondelet, dim. of rondel "short poem with a refrain," lit. "small circle," from O.Fr. rondel, dim. of rond "circle, sphere," originally an adj. from roont (see round). Spelling developed by association with lay (n.) "poem to be sung."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


a poem with a refrain that recurs frequently or at fixed intervals, as in a rondel. The term is also loosely used to refer to any of the fixed forms of poetry (such as the rondeau, the rondel, and the roundel) that use refrains extensively.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
No one quite knows where the world will end up in this new roundelay of policy decisions and feedback loops.
The fife and drum corps began a merry roundelay and under cover of the racket the policeman was given a satisfactory explanation.
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