round robin

or round-rob·in

See more synonyms for round robin on
  1. a sequence or series.
  2. a petition, remonstrance, or the like, having the signatures arranged in circular form so as to disguise the order of signing.
  3. a letter, notice, or the like, circulated from person to person in a group, often with individual comments being added by each.
  4. Sports. a tournament in which all of the entrants play each other at least once, failure to win a contest not resulting in elimination.

Origin of round robin

First recorded in 1540–50 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for round robin

Historical Examples of round robin

  • There was talk even of sending a round-robin to Mrs. St. Clair.

    Pirate Gold

    Frederic Jesup Stimson

  • "This 'round-robin' is as plump as a partridge," she remarked.

  • A 'round-robin' letter will cheer the poor girls wonderfully.

  • They would be in round-robin communication with each other, yet never out of contact with the other stations.


    Harry Harrison

  • The whole county shall sign a round-robin to tell him it's a shame; and if any one dares to buy it we'll send him to Coventry.

British Dictionary definitions for round robin

round robin

  1. a letter, esp a petition or protest, having the signatures in a circle in order to disguise the order of signing
  2. any letter or petition signed by a number of people
  3. US and Canadian a tournament, as in a competitive game or sport, in which each player plays against every other player
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 round robin

"petition or complaint signed in a circle to disguise the order in which names were affixed and prevent ringleaders from being identified," 1730, originally in reference to sailors and frequently identified as a nautical term. As a kind of tournament in which each player plays the others, it is recorded from 1895.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with round robin

round robin


A petition or other document signed by several persons in sequence, so that no one can tell who was the first to sign it. For example, We decided to send a round robin to management to protest the new rules about work hours. This term originally referred to a grievance presented by seamen to their captain, called round because of the circular sequence of names, but the source of robin has been lost. [Early 1700s]


In sports, a tournament in which each player or team plays against all of the others in turn. For example, The club always holds a tennis round robin on the Fourth of July. [Late 1800s]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.