from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Of, relating to, causing, or characterized by rotation, especially around an axis.
  • noun A part or device that rotates around an axis.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Rotating; turning round and round, as a wheel on its axis; having or characterized by rotation: as, rotary animalcules; rotary motion.
  • Acting or held in rotation, as officers or an office; turn-about; rotating.
  • In metal-working, a serrated rotary steel tool used on a mandrel in a lathe for operating upon a piece of metal presented to it and fed toward it on a slide-rest or other analogous movable support.
  • In wood-working: A rotary chisel-edged cutter fastened to a cutter-head, or one of a gang of cutters so attached, used to cut away superfluous wood in shaping irregular forms, as in the manufacture of hames for harness, of fellies for wagon-wheels, of curved chair-legs, etc. A solid steel tool having rotating cutting edges, in the nature of a burring-tool or router, used in carving-machines for cutting ornamental figures in intaglio. In working upon wood with rotary cutters, the cutter-head shafts or cutter-spindles are sometimes carried by movable bearings, and guided after the manner of a tracing-point or stylus in a pantograph. In other machines the bearings of the cutter-head shafts or spindles are stationary, and the work is itself guided and moved to produce the required shape or pattern. See bur, 4 , and router. Compare also shaper and shaping-machine.
  • A valve which makes complete and successive revolutions, thus alternately bringing its port or ports into continuity and discontinuity with a port or ports in its seat. This kind of valve has been but little used.
  • noun In electricity, a rotary converter.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Turning, as a wheel on its axis; pertaining to, or resembling, the motion of a wheel on its axis; rotatory.
  • adjective steam engine in which the continuous rotation of the shaft is produced by the direct action of the steam upon rotating devices which serve as pistons, instead of being derived from a reciprocating motion, as in the ordinary engine; a steam turbine; -- called also rotatory engine.
  • adjective a pump in which the fluid is impelled by rotating devices which take the place of reciprocating buckets or pistons.
  • adjective shears, as for cloth, metal, etc., in which revolving sharp-edged or sharp-cornered wheels do the cutting.
  • adjective a valve acting by continuous or partial rotation, as in the four-way cock.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Having or being capable of having rotation.
  • noun New England A traffic circle.
  • noun Usually with a capital initial, short for Rotary movement, an international club for community service.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun electrical converter consisting of a synchronous machine that converts alternating to direct current or vice versa
  • noun a road junction at which traffic streams circularly around a central island
  • adjective relating to or characterized by rotation
  • adjective describing a circle; moving in a circle


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Medieval Latin rotārius, from Latin rota, wheel; see ret- in Indo-European roots.]



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