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