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

Other Words from rotate


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

Synonyms for rotate

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of rotate in a Sentence

Verb 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, 10 July 2017 Rotate steaks 45 degrees and cook another 2 minutes. Milwaukee, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3 July 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In the 1970s, Vera Rubin of the Carnegie Institute of Washington observed that the outskirts of galaxies rotate much faster than expected, as if whipped around by some extra, invisible source of gravity. Quanta Magazine, 3 Dec. 2021 Bake for 8 minutes, then rotate the pan from front to back and bake for another 8 minutes, or until the edges are caramelized and the centers are puffy, but still a little pale and underbaked (the cookies will set during cooling). Washington Post, 1 Dec. 2021 While some popular series and movies rotate on and off the service, exclusives like Squid Game, Bridgerton, and Stranger Things attract new viewers and persuade subscribers to stay. Simon Hill, Wired, 22 Nov. 2021 Outside linebacker Justin Hollins is sidelined following surgery to repair a torn chest muscle, so second-year pro Terrell Lewis, Obo Okoronkwo and rookie Ernest Jones could rotate opposite Floyd. Gary Klein Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 3 Oct. 2021 Curated works of art on loan from the New Britain Museum of American Art rotate quarterly and enhance the décor. Debbi Kickham, Forbes, 30 Sep. 2021 Each has 21 names, and the lists rotate annually—so this year’s selection will recur in 2027, next year’s in 2028, and so on. Jo Craven Mcginty, WSJ, 16 July 2021 Surrounded by a full-dome screen, passengers on the ride will begin their virtual journey when the gondolas, facing away from the screen, rotate 180 degrees, giving riders the sensation of hanging over the edge of a deck and soaring in space. San Diego Union-Tribune, 26 May 2021 Unlike its cousins, the F-35B can rotate its exhaust nozzle straight down. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 27 Sep. 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near rotate

rotary-wing aircraft



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Statistics for rotate

Cite this Entry

“Rotate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jan. 2022.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on rotate

Nglish: Translation of rotate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rotate for Arabic Speakers


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