Definition of roustabout
2 : an unskilled or semiskilled laborer especially in an oil field or refinery
3 : a circus worker who erects and dismantles tents, cares for the grounds, and handles animals and equipment
4 : a person with no permanent home or regular occupation; also : one who stirs up trouble
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Examples of roustabout in a sentence
sought work as a roustabout on the city's seedy waterfront
Did You Know?
Circus roustabouts are most commonly associated with circus animals, of course, but they also have a connection with game birds, at least in terms of etymology. "Roustabout" comes from "roust," which is an alteration of "rouse," a verb from Middle English that originally meant "to shake the feathers" (as in the way a bird might ruffle its feathers or shake its plumage when it is settling down or grooming itself). "Rouse," which today is a synonym of "awaken," also formerly meant "to cause to break from cover," a sense that may have influenced the modern meaning of "roust": "to drive (as from bed) roughly or unceremoniously."
First Known Use of roustabout
ROUSTABOUT Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of roustabout for English Language Learners
: a worker in an oil field, at a circus, etc., whose job requires strength but little skill
Seen and Heard
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