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[round-hous] /ˈraʊndˌhaʊs/
noun, plural roundhouses
[round-hou-ziz] /ˈraʊndˌhaʊ zɪz/ (Show IPA)
a building for the servicing and repair of locomotives, built around a turntable in the form of some part of a circle.
Nautical. a cabin on the after part of a quarterdeck.
Slang. a punch in which the arm is typically brought straight out to the side or rear of the body and in which the fist describes an exaggerated circular motion.
Also called round trip. Pinochle. a meld of one king and queen of each suit.
Origin of roundhouse
First recorded in 1580-90; round1 + house Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for roundhouse
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It was patent that some one had sneaked into the roundhouse and had pasted the papers there.

  • You could set your watch by that tune as confidently as by the roundhouse whistle.

    My Antonia Willa Cather
  • While still off balance from the blow that hurt, he tried to swing a roundhouse left.

    The Lone Ranger Rides Fran Striker
  • Leaving school, he secured a job in the roundhouse at Stanley Junction.

    Ralph on the Engine Allen Chapman
  • The roundhouse, the coal chutes and the signal tower were gone.

    Hoofbeats on the Turnpike Mildred A. Wirt
  • They steamed out of the roundhouse and were soon at the head of their freight train.

    Ralph on the Engine Allen Chapman
  • When he gets to the end of the run, there will be a crew to take his locomotive away to the roundhouse.

    The Modern Railroad Edward Hungerford
  • “It will be a sort of vacation holiday for you, lad,” said the roundhouse foreman.

    Ralph on the Engine Allen Chapman
  • Ralph waited until they were on their way home from the roundhouse that evening.

    Ralph on the Engine Allen Chapman
British Dictionary definitions for roundhouse


a circular building in which railway locomotives are serviced or housed, radial tracks being fed by a central turntable
(boxing, slang)
  1. a swinging punch or style of punching
  2. (as modifier): a roundhouse style
(pinochle, US) a meld of all four kings and queens
an obsolete word for jail
(obsolete) a cabin on the quarterdeck of a sailing ship
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 roundhouse

also round-house, "lock-up, place of detention," 1580s, from Dutch rondhuis "guardhouse." Meaning "circular shed for locomotives with a turntable in the center" is from 1856. Meaning "blow delivered with a wide sweep of the arm" is perhaps extended from "round building for circular machinery."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for roundhouse



  1. : He swung a roundhouse left
  2. : a roundhouse pitch


  1. A long, looping punch to the head (1920+ Prizefighting)
  2. A sweeping curve-ball (1910+ Baseball)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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