ro·​tate | \ ˈrō-ˌtāt How to pronounce rotate (audio) \

Definition of rotate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: having the parts flat and spreading or radiating like the spokes of a wheel rotate blue flowers


ro·​tate | \ ˈrō-ˌtāt How to pronounce rotate (audio) , especially British rō-ˈtāt\
rotated; rotating

Definition of rotate (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to perform an act, function, or operation in turn
b : to pass or alternate in a series
2 : to turn about an axis or a center : revolve especially : to move in such a way that all particles follow circles with a common angular velocity about a common axis

transitive verb

1a : to cause to turn or move about an axis or a center
b : to cause (a plane region or line) to sweep out a volume or surface by moving around an axis so that each of its points remains at a constant distance from the axis generate a torus by rotating a circle about an external line
2 : to cause to grow in rotation rotate crops
3 : to cause to pass or act in a series : alternate
4 : to exchange (individuals or units) with others

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Other Words from rotate


rotatable \ ˈrō-​ˌtā-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce rotatable (audio) also  rō-​ˈtā-​ \ adjective

Synonyms for rotate

Synonyms: Verb

pivot, revolve, roll, spin, swing, swirl, swivel, turn, twirl, twist, wheel, whirl

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Examples of rotate in a Sentence


As the gear rotates, it turns the other gears. The Earth rotates on its axis. The planets rotate around the sun. The software allows you to rotate images. Rotate the sheet of paper 90 degrees. The staff rotates the weekend shift. We rotate—she does the dishes one week; I do them the next. You should rotate your car's tires once a year.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Rotate pie plate about 15° (if the top of the pie is the 12 o’clock mark, turn it to 2 o’clock). Rick Martinez, Bon Appetit, "BA's Best Blueberry Pie," 10 July 2017 Rotate steaks 45 degrees and cook another 2 minutes. Milwaukee, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Grilled Kansas City Strip Steaks," 3 July 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

This hotel functions as an ever-rotating art gallery. Carisha Swanson, House Beautiful, "5 Things You Must Do In Kentucky," 3 May 2019 All things considered, Louis-Dreyfus is still very much in love with fashion, as her ever-rotating wardrobe confirms. Vogue, "“Don’t Wear These Clothes Again!”: Julia Louis-Dreyfus Relives Iconic Looks From Seinfeld, Veep, and More," 22 Apr. 2019 Marrero explains it this way: Many people tend to do sit-ups incorrectly by leading the motion with their head first (versus their core) and over-rotating their upper back, which can cause the upper portion of the spine to curve. Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "Why You Should Try Sit-ups With a Mini Resistance Band Around Your Wrists," 18 Apr. 2019 Instead of using a conventional helicopter layout with main rotors and a stabilizing tail rotor, the Defiant uses two sets of counter-rotating main rotors and a rear-facing propulsor propeller for forward thrust. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "First Flight of the SB-1 Defiant, a Potential Blackhawk Helicopter Replacement," 26 Mar. 2019 Four additional rotors whir at the ends of outriggers, for a total of 10 rotors (five counter-rotating to cancel out the twisting effects from the motors). Dan Neil, WSJ, "The First Flying-Car Review," 12 Sep. 2018 The electric power system also allows the helicopter to lose its large central blade and tail rotors while gaining a drone-like configuration of four arms that end with two counter-rotating propellers. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Workhorse brings an electric pickup truck, helicopter to Manhattan," 19 Aug. 2018 Staab was on the top of the ramp that day as Hawk over-rotated on a 540 attempt, slamming onto his back. Jacob Feldman,, "How Does an Action Sports Superstar Age? Tony Hawk Is Figuring It Out on the Fly," 2 July 2018 The team hopes to look at more of the clockwise-rotating objects, and work through models to understand how BZ entered into Jupiter’s orbit. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Is This Backwards-Orbiting Asteroid an Interstellar Visitor?," 23 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rotate.' 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 rotate


1760, in the meaning defined above


1757, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for rotate


Latin rota


Latin rotatus, past participle of rotare, from rota wheel — more at roll

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Statistics for rotate

Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for rotate

The first known use of rotate was in 1757

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More Definitions for rotate



English Language Learners Definition of rotate

: to move or turn in a circle
: to regularly change the person who does a particular job so that all the members of a group do it at different times
: to regularly change the place or position of things or people so that each takes the place of another


ro·​tate | \ ˈrō-ˌtāt How to pronounce rotate (audio) \
rotated; rotating

Kids Definition of rotate

1 : to turn about an axis or a center
2 : to go from one person to another or others in a cycle The staff rotates working weekends.
3 : to pass in a series The seasons rotate.


ro·​tate | \ ˈrō-ˌtāt, especially British rō-ˈ\
rotated; rotating

Medical Definition of rotate

intransitive verb

: to turn about an axis or a center

transitive verb

: to cause to turn about an axis or a center rotate the head

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More from Merriam-Webster on rotate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with rotate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for rotate

Spanish Central: Translation of rotate

Nglish: Translation of rotate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rotate for Arabic Speakers

Comments on rotate

What made you want to look up rotate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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