• synonyms


  1. a song in which a phrase, line, or the like, is continually repeated.
  2. the music for such a song.
  3. a dance in a circle; round dance.
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Origin of roundelay

1565–75; alteration (influenced by lay4) of Middle French rondelet, diminutive of rondel roundel
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for roundelay

Historical Examples of roundelay

  • His smile was bright and his skip was lightAs he chirruped his roundelay.

    The Book of Humorous Verse


  • W—— paused for another second or two; but then went on with his roundelay.

  • Why sing a roundelay that means no more than Choctaw to a Turk?

  • Voices rippled from chantey to roundelay and back to chantey again.

    Strange Stories of the Great Valley

    Abbie Johnston Grosvenor

  • Today, she drums the roundelay of the Lupanars on the back of my neck.

    Very Woman

    Remy de Gourmont

British Dictionary definitions for roundelay


  1. Also called: roundel a slow medieval dance performed in a circle
  2. a song in which a line or phrase is repeated as a refrain
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Word Origin for roundelay

C16: from Old French rondelet a little rondel, from rondel; also influenced by lay 4
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 roundelay


1570s, from Middle French rondelet, diminutive of rondel "short poem with a refrain," literally "small circle," diminutive of Old French rond "circle, sphere," originally an adjective from roont (see round (adj.)). Spelling developed by association with lay (n.) "poem to be sung."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper