ro·​ta·​ry | \ ˈrō-tə-rē How to pronounce rotary (audio) \

Definition of rotary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : turning on an axis like a wheel
b : taking place about an axis rotary motion
2 : having an important part that turns on an axis rotary cutter
3 : characterized by rotation
4 : of, relating to, or being a press in which paper is printed by rotation in contact with a curved printing surface attached to a cylinder


plural rotaries

Definition of rotary (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a rotary machine
2 : a road junction formed around a central circle about which traffic moves in one direction only

called also circle, traffic circle

Examples of rotary in a Sentence

Adjective the rotary action of the wheel
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective In the eastern Wyoming mining town, a rotary drill, an oversize coal shovel and a 411,580-pound engine are displayed in a local park. Washington Post, 20 Dec. 2021 That classic Fisher-Price toy rotary phone is getting a modern upgrade. Brett Molina, USA TODAY, 19 Oct. 2021 The rover is equipped with a rotary percussive drill (with extra drill bits) that both spins and hammers into the rock. Ramin Skibba, Wired, 2 Sep. 2021 Its shiny plastic exterior is complete with a working rotary dial and eyes that move with its wheels. Medea Giordano, Wired, 7 Dec. 2021 The same applies to set decorations such as old transistor radios, rotary dial telephones and manual typewriters. Richard Kuipers, Variety, 5 Dec. 2021 In a corner of the Pacific Northwest, muffled by moss and trees that are centuries-old, sits an out-of-place relic – a rotary phone that's connected to nothing, except the wind. CBS News, 14 Nov. 2021 Processing facilities like Riceland Crawfish in Eunice, La., soften the meat even further using a mechanical tenderizer with rotary blades before distributing it to suppliers. New York Times, 30 Nov. 2021 Then each was separately infused into the bourbon and redistilled on a rotary evaporator still. Jonah Flicker, Robb Report, 19 Nov. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In an effort to slow traffic and make Hyde Square’s signature rotary easier to cross, the city widened sidewalks, broadened the circle with new pavers, and created multiple large concrete pedestrian islands., 1 Nov. 2021 And on that dividing line sits the Holy Name rotary, where voters from two precincts were deadlocked on their vote in September., 30 Oct. 2021 The Brown Circle rotary in Revere is partially closed Wednesday while crews clean up 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel that spilled when a tractor trailer rolled at a gas station, officials said., 13 Oct. 2021 This vast swath of land, largely a tank farm today, encompasses four parcels that together reach from the Sweetser Circle rotary at routes 16 and 99 all the way to the Mystic River., 24 Sep. 2021 The statue’s 40-foot granite pedestal will remain onsite, in the middle of a grassy rotary on Richmond’s Monument Avenue, but crews will remove plaques affixed to its base. Joe Walsh, Forbes, 6 Sep. 2021 What Mazda fans will be glad to hear is that the rotary is not dead. Peter Lyon, Forbes, 23 June 2021 The crash occurred at 2:20 p.m. Monday on Route 1 northbound south of the Route 60 rotary, and sent six people to area hospitals, a statement from State Police spokesman David Procopio said. Charlie Mckenna,, 16 Mar. 2021 The defense contractor is also closing a plant in Marion, Massachusetts, by October next year and relocating hundreds of jobs and its rotary and mission systems operations from Marion to Syracuse, New York. Alison Knezevich,, 8 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rotary.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of rotary


1704, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1836, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for rotary


Medieval Latin rotarius, from Latin rota wheel

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Dictionary Entries Near rotary



rotary beater

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Statistics for rotary

Last Updated

31 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Rotary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for rotary



English Language Learners Definition of rotary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: turning around a central point like a wheel
: having a part that turns around a central point like a wheel



English Language Learners Definition of rotary (Entry 2 of 2)


ro·​ta·​ry | \ ˈrō-tə-rē How to pronounce rotary (audio) \

Kids Definition of rotary

1 : turning on an axis like a wheel a rotary blade
2 : having a rotating part


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