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[roh-teyt or, esp. British, roh-teyt]
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verb (used with object), ro·tat·ed, ro·tat·ing.
  1. to cause to turn around an axis or center point; revolve.
  2. to cause to go through a cycle of changes; cause to pass or follow in a fixed routine of succession: to rotate farm crops.
  3. to replace (a person, troops, etc.) by another or others, usually according to a schedule or plan.
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verb (used without object), ro·tat·ed, ro·tat·ing.
  1. to turn around on or as if on an axis.
  2. to proceed in a fixed routine of succession: The sentries rotated in keeping watch.
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Origin of rotate1

1800–10; < Latin rotātus (past participle of rotāre to cause to spin, roll, move in a circle), equivalent to rot(a) wheel + -ātus -ate1
Related formsro·tat·a·ble, adjectivero·tat·a·bly, adverbnon·ro·tat·a·ble, adjectivenon·ro·tat·ing, adjectiveun·ro·tat·ed, adjectiveun·ro·tat·ing, adjective


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1. wheel, whirl. See turn.


  1. wheel-shaped: applied especially to a gamopetalous short-tubed corolla with a spreading limb.
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Origin of rotate2

1775–85; < Latin rot(a) wheel + -ate1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for rotate


verb (rəʊˈteɪt)
  1. to turn or cause to turn around an axis, line, or point; revolve or spin
  2. to follow or cause to follow a set order or sequence
  3. (of a position, presidency, etc) to pass in turn from one eligible party to each of the other eligible parties
  4. (of staff) to replace or be replaced in turn
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adjective (ˈrəʊteɪt)
  1. botany designating a corolla the united petals of which radiate from a central point like the spokes of a wheel
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Derived Formsrotatable, adjective
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 rotate


1794, intransitive, back-formation from rotation. Transitive sense from 1823. Related: Rotated; rotating. Rotator "muscle which allows a part to be moved circularly" is recorded from 1670s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper