roller coaster


a small gravity railroad, especially in an amusement park, having a train with open cars that moves along a high, sharply winding trestle built with steep inclines that produce sudden, speedy plunges for thrill-seeking passengers.
a car or train of cars for such a railroad.
any phenomenon, period, or experience of persistent or violent ups and downs, as one fluctuating between prosperity and recession or elation and despair.

Nearby words

  1. roller,
  2. roller bandage,
  3. roller bearing,
  4. roller caption,
  5. roller chain,
  6. roller derby,
  7. roller gate,
  8. roller hockey,
  9. roller mill,
  10. roller rink

Origin of roller coaster

First recorded in 1885–90


[roh-ler-koh-ster, roh-li-]

verb (used without object)

to go up and down like a roller coaster; rise and fall: a narrow road roller-coastering around the mountain; a light boat roller-coastering over the waves.
to experience a period of prosperity, happiness, security, or the like, followed by a contrasting period of economic depression, despair, or the like: The economy was roller-coastering throughout most of the decade.


of, relating to, or characteristic of a roller coaster.
resembling the progress of a ride on a roller coaster in sudden extreme changeableness.

Origin of roller-coaster

First recorded in 1960–65 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for rollercoaster

British Dictionary definitions for rollercoaster

roller coaster


another term for big dipper
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 rollercoaster



also roller-coaster, and originally roller coaster, by 1884, perhaps mid-1870s, from roller + coaster. As a verb by 1959.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper