roustabout

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noun roust·about \ˈrau̇s-tə-ˌbau̇t\

Definition of roustabout

  1. 1a :  deckhandb :  longshoreman

  2. 2 :  an unskilled or semiskilled laborer especially in an oil field or refinery

  3. 3 :  a circus worker who erects and dismantles tents, cares for the grounds, and handles animals and equipment

  4. 4 :  a person with no permanent home or regular occupation; also :  one who stirs up trouble

roustabout was our Word of the Day on 06/22/2015. Hear the podcast!

Examples of roustabout in a sentence

  1. 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."

1860

First Known Use of roustabout

1860


ROUSTABOUT Defined for English Language Learners

roustabout

play
noun roust·about \ˈrau̇s-tə-ˌbau̇t\

Definition of roustabout for English Language Learners

  • : a worker in an oil field, at a circus, etc., whose job requires strength but little skill



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