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 Similar to models such as the BMW i3 and Chevy Volt, the gasoline engine will serve mostly as a range-extender that kicks in to charge the battery pack—only in the MX-30's case, that engine will use an unconventional rotary design. Joey Capparella, Car and Driver, "Mazda MX-30 Confirmed for U.S. with EV, Rotary Hybrid Variants," 5 Jan. 2021 Maybe even call on a rotary dial phone, or a Nokia shaped like a brick, to stick with ’90s vibe. Jason Gay, WSJ, "The Buffalo Bills Have Won the AFC East. This Isn’t a Misprint.," 20 Dec. 2020 But the statue’s mise-en-scene is more fuddy-duddy than a rotary phone, and about as dynamic as butcher paper. Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times, "Column: The most controversial thing about Gov. Pete Wilson’s statue is its dull irrelevance," 13 Dec. 2020 Churches, schools and the local rotary club supplied the facility with face masks, gowns and other personal protection equipment during the outbreak, which had Murray and her staff working 12- to 14-hour shifts for six weeks. Megan Cerullo, CBS News, "COVID-19 again tearing through nursing homes, as death toll rises," 11 Dec. 2020 The rotary magazine was at some point modified to remove the counting window and the traditional brass was replaced with steel. Bryce M. Towsley, Outdoor Life, "The Life and Times of the Savage Model 99, One of America’s Greatest Lever-Action Rifles," 9 Dec. 2020 Its chunky interior design fits its rugged character, save for the rotary shift knob that carries over from the Escape. Scott Oldham, Car and Driver, "2021 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands Earns the Bronco Name," 7 Dec. 2020 The bike was powered by a 145.5-cubic-centimeter, single-cylinder, two-stroke motor with a rotary valve design, which allowed a 2 percent oil mixture. Cory Graff, Popular Mechanics, "Let's Remember When French Paratroopers Once Used Bazooka Vespas in Combat," 30 Nov. 2020 The cooking surface is nonstick, so cleanup is easy, and the rotary feature ensures that waffles are done to perfection every time. Sian Babish,, "The best Black Friday deals of 2020," 27 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Then turn the rotary switch to Volts AC (Vac), which is also indicated by a wavy line on the dial. Joseph Truini, Popular Mechanics, "How to Use a Digital Multimeter," 21 Oct. 2020 Use a gouge or rotary tool ($50, The Home Depot) to etch large sections. Sarah Martens, Better Homes & Gardens, "Learn How to Etch a Pumpkin for Halloween," 15 Oct. 2020 Perhaps most significant is Bronco’s rotary, transfer-case controller with seven signature GOAT modes (Go Over Any Terrain) in Badlands models. Tribune News Service, cleveland, "In the saddle of the bucking Ford Bronco and Bronco Sport," 29 Aug. 2020 And the console rotary knob makes way for a more contemporary-looking touchpad. Jens Meiners, Car and Driver, "2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 Polishes Its High-Tech Presentation," 12 Aug. 2020 In Abbeville last year, some Yellow Vest protesters first gathered at one of the town’s biggest rotaries, near a major shopping mall., "Even in Abbeville, on a recent morning, workers in fluorescent orange vests and hard hats were breaking ground on yet another rotary, as cars were backed up by the construction.," 26 Dec. 2019 Their ubiquity in Abbeville is an extreme example of France’s unabashed embrace of the rotary, found in abundance throughout the country and widely credited for making roads safer and less clogged., "Even in Abbeville, on a recent morning, workers in fluorescent orange vests and hard hats were breaking ground on yet another rotary, as cars were backed up by the construction.," 26 Dec. 2019 As Popular Mechanics noted in our recent feature about the story and legacy of the Wankel rotary, the engine hasn't been featured in a car since the Mazda RX-8 was canceled in 2018. Andrew Moseman, Popular Mechanics, "Second Spin: The Mazda Rotary Engine Will Return," 2 Oct. 2018 Presuming its final design comes to fruition, the Szorenyi faces an existential question: What is the rotary's place in the world? Matthew Jancer, Popular Mechanics, "The Rhombus Rotary Engine: Can a Quirky New Design Top the Famous Wankel?," 18 Jan. 2019

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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Time Traveler for rotary

Time Traveler

The first known use of rotary was in 1704

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Statistics for rotary

Last Updated

17 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Rotary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for rotary


How to pronounce rotary (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of rotary

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


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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