• synonyms


  1. a device for giving an illusion of motion, consisting of a slitted drum that, when whirled, shows a succession of images placed opposite the slits within the drum as one moving image.
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Origin of zoetrope

1865–70; irregular < Greek zōḗ life + tropḗ turn
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for zoetrope

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Add gradually ten ounces of piperazine, a pint of Harrogate water and inhale leisurely through a zoetrope.

  • Avenues of poplars on both sides of the road chased each other like the figures in a zoetrope.

    The Ball and The Cross

    G.K. Chesterton

  • The zoetrope, or Wheel of Life, which appeared first in 1860, is a modification of the same idea.

  • With the discovery of instantaneous photography, a new application of the principle of the zoetrope was found.

  • My zoetrope thus worked off itself, and piled up Karma for all the village whether anyone happened to be looking at it or not.

    Hilda Wade

    Grant Allen

British Dictionary definitions for zoetrope


  1. a cylinder-shaped toy with a sequence of pictures on its inner surface which, when viewed through the vertical slits spaced regularly around it while the toy is rotated, produce an illusion of animation
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Word Origin

C19: Greek zoe life + trope turn
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 zoetrope


1867, literally "wheel of life," from Greek zoe "life" (see zoo) + trope "turn" (see trope).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper