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

Through tonight: Pockets of heavy rain, with thunder and lightning embedded, will slowly rotate through the area. Greg Porter, Washington Post, "PM Update: Localized flash-flooding possible tonight, with pockets of heavy rain developing," 2 June 2018 The day forged on seamlessly as child after child rotated through the cosmetic, photo-taking and interview portions of the schedule. Isabella Vaccaro, miamiherald, "Heart gallery aims to ‘find forever families’ for children hoping to be adopted | Miami Herald," 5 Apr. 2018 Sure, the steady splashing noise as my tires rotated through 6 inches of water wasn't pleasant. Alli Harvey, Anchorage Daily News, "Cyclists, never underestimate spring breakup in Southcentral Alaska," 29 Mar. 2018 An ample amount of liquid nitrogen rains down over the candy, then the staffer picks up the paper holder and rotates it, letting all the extra liquid dribble off until the surface appears clear. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Yes, we flew to Japan to watch someone pour liquid nitrogen on custom Kit Kats," 28 Oct. 2018 The illustrations were then submitted to Google and will rotate through the company’s search page. Don Reisinger, Fortune, "Google Doodle Celebrates Start of 2018 FIFA World Cup," 14 June 2018 Smith helped stabilize the Miami rotation early in the season when Wei-Yin Chen and Dan Straily were injured and has helped recently as the team rotates through No. Matthew Defranks,, "A Closer Look: Miami Marlins 4, San Diego Padres 0," 9 June 2018 Through a sales development program, for example, sales associates spend one or two years rotating through different areas. Jessica Levy,, "VEGA Americas promotes continuous improvement," 8 June 2018 The first round of beers rotating through Dueling Dogs' taps will include the witbier, an IPA, a pilsner, a pale ale and the Choco Rocco — a chocolate vanilla porter named after the family's black Lab. Benjy Egel, sacbee, "Farm-to-glass brewery serving cider, mead to open near Lincoln | The Sacramento Bee," 7 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 affect and impair by alcohol or a drug

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