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[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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for rotary
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • On Model B a Holmes rotary 7-cylinder motor of 4x4-inch bore and stroke is used.

    Flying Machines W.J. Jackman and Thos. H. Russell
  • Sometimes the pan is shaken so that the dirt receives a rotary motion.

  • He swung it rigidly with the rotary and menacing action of a slinger: the 14-lb.

    End of the Tether Joseph Conrad
  • The log-hauler would not deliver the goods to the rotary saw.

    A Labrador Doctor

    Wilfred Thomason Grenfell
  • I changed the movement from a reciprocating to a rotary motion.

    Peter Cooper Rossiter W. Raymond
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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