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  1. roaming or wandering.
  2. not assigned or restricted to any particular location, area, topic, etc.: a roving editor.
  3. not assigned to any particular diplomatic post but having a special mission: a roving ambassador.

Origin of roving1

First recorded in 1590–1600; rove1 + -ing2
Related formsrov·ing·ly, adverbrov·ing·ness, noun


  1. a soft strand of fiber that has been twisted, attenuated, and freed of foreign matter preparatory to its conversion into yarn.
  2. the final phase of carding, in which this is done.

Origin of roving2

First recorded in 1785–95; rove3 + -ing1


verb (used without object), roved, rov·ing.
  1. to wander about without definite destination; move hither and thither at random, especially over a wide area.
verb (used with object), roved, rov·ing.
  1. to wander over or through; traverse: to rove the woods.
  1. an act or instance of roving.

Origin of rove1

1490–1500; orig., to shoot at a random target; perhaps < Scandinavian; compare Old Norse rāfa to stray; but compare also Old French raver to roam


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1. stroll, amble, stray. See roam.


  1. a simple past tense and past participle of reeve2.


verb (used with object), roved, rov·ing.
  1. to form (slivers of wool, cotton, etc.) into slightly twisted strands in a preparatory process of spinning.
  2. to draw fibers or the like through an eye or other small opening.
  3. to attenuate, compress, and twist slightly in carding.
  1. British. roving2.

Origin of rove3

First recorded in 1780–90; of obscure origin
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for roving

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • There, for the first time in history, man had ceased to be a roving animal.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • The hunters were roving the open, and even Hal Dozier was at fault.

  • My roving excursion this day had fatigued my body, and diverted my imagination.

  • On the other hand, the quick, roving eye of the scout seldom rested.

    The Last of the Mohicans

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • Rain had driven to shelter the roving dogs which had troubled us last night.

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

British Dictionary definitions for roving


  1. to wander about (a place) with no fixed direction; roam
  2. (intr) (of the eyes) to look around; wander
  3. have a roving eye to show a widespread amorous interest in the opposite sex
  4. (intr) Australian rules football to play as a rover
  1. the act of roving

Word Origin

C15 roven (in archery) to shoot at a target chosen at random (C16: to wander, stray), from Scandinavian; compare Icelandic rāfa to wander


  1. (tr) to pull out and twist (fibres of wool, cotton, etc) lightly, as before spinning or in carding
  1. wool, cotton, etc, thus prepared

Word Origin

C18: of obscure origin


  1. a metal plate through which a rivet is passed and then clenched over

Word Origin

C15: from Scandinavian; compare Icelandic ro


  1. a past tense and past participle of reeve 2
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

Word Origin and History for roving



"to wander with no fixed destination," 1530s (earliest sense was "to shoot arrows at a mark selected at pleasure or at random," late 15c.); possibly a Midlands dialectal variant of northern English and Scottish rave "to wander, stray," from Middle English raven, probably from Old Norse rafa "to wander, rove" (cf. rave (v.)). Influenced by rover, if not a back-formation from it. Related: Roved; roving.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper