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

  • adj. Indirect; circuitous: "This conclusion was reached in a roundabout but nevertheless perfectly reliable way” ( George Gamow).
  • n. A short, close-fitting jacket.
  • n. Chiefly British A merry-go-round.
  • n. Chiefly British A traffic circle.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Indirect, circuitous or circumlocutionary; that does not do something in a direct way.
  • n. A road junction at which traffic streams circularly around a central island
  • n. A children's play apparatus, often found in parks, which rotates around a central axis when pushed.
  • n. A fairground carousel.
  • n. A detour
  • n. A short, close-fitting coat or jacket worn by men or boys, especially in the 19th century.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Circuitous; going round; indirect.
  • adj. Encircling; enveloping; comprehensive.
  • adv. in every direction around.
  • n. A large horizontal wheel or frame, commonly with wooden horses, etc., on which children ride; a merry-go-round; a carousel.
  • n. A dance performed in a circle.
  • n. A short, close jacket worn by boys, sailors, etc.
  • n. A state or scene of constant change, or of recurring labor and vicissitude.
  • n. a traffic circle.
  • prep. an emphatic form for round or about.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Circuitous; tortuous; indirect.
  • Comprehensive; taking a wide range.
  • Encircling; surrounding; encompassing.
  • n. A large horizontal revolving frame, carrying small wooden horses and carriages, sometimes elephants, etc., on or in which children ride; a merry-go-round.
  • n. A round dance.
  • n. A scene of incessant revolution, change, or vicissitude.
  • n. An arm-chair with rounded back and sides.
  • n. A short coat or jacket for men and boys, without skirts, which fits the body closely. Also round jacket.
  • n. A cyclonic storm.

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

  • adj. marked by obliqueness or indirection in speech or conduct
  • n. a large, rotating machine with seats for children to ride or amusement
  • n. a road junction at which traffic streams circularly around a central island
  • adj. deviating from a straight course


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • "Any time I get a chance to visit Roundabout City, I try to make the most of it," said Howard McCullough, a state highway engineer who carries the title of roundabout specialist for New York.

    Roundabouts: Traffic boon or bane?

  • There was a very well-known set of local rural toilets here, near a main roundabout but concealed by a miniature forest, wherin many a local reputation was besmirched down the years.

    42 entries from November 2007

  • Another problem is that the word roundabout brings up for many people an image of an old "traffic circle" or, in the Northeast, a "rotary" intersection.


  • * A old Lysol advertisement, telling people (in roundabout terms) how it was great as a douche.

    Wiscon 34 - The Tiptree Auction

  • Austen is pervading my life in roundabout ways, and while it’s nice to watch a movie without the work part of my brain peering at the cars to see what sort of dash kits might be installed, I feel like I’d be much better served by reading her actual work.

    Becoming Jane with Anne Hathaway

  • I hope she won’t be too surprised when the roundabout is built off North Avenue down the road ….

    Petition Drive Over Park St. Project at

  • The raised roundabout, which is close to the ICC centre where the Conservative party is due to start its conference on Sunday, stands at the junction of several routes into the centre of Birmingham.

    Birmingham traffic brought to standstill by man on bridge

  • It is now brightly painted by 2 adorable kids and the boat is sitting in the middle of our so called roundabout driveway.

    Regretsy – Dressing the Bird

  • The problem, as I see it, is that the roundabout is the right idea but it is executed poorly.

    Waldo Jaquith - Bad urban planning: Curved intersections.

  • We saw pictures a moment ago of a roundabout, which is Firdos Square, where the statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled down on live TV in April of 2003.

    CNN Transcript Oct 24, 2005


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  • I haven't noticed more or less carnage (thank heaven), even anecdotally, but I have noticed that 1) people slow the hell down and look around them, which (sadly) is unusual these days, and 2) despite the slowing-down, traffic moves more efficiently in them than at intersections with lights and lanes all over the place. To me those are reasons enough to use more roundabouts.

    *suddenly breaks into air guitar of that Yes song*

    July 21, 2009

  • Ewww, didn't like this verbing:

    "Reports FHWA: Only 10% of all intersections are signalized ..."

    Anecdotally, yeh, I see less carnage at roundabouts than at other places around the roads. For the record, we are not encouraged to change lanes in a roundabout. The mantra on the TV ads goes "left lane in, left lane out; right lane in, right lane out." Presumably, if we had 3 lane roundabouts this far north, we would also have centre lane in, centre lane out.

    July 21, 2009

  • I agree! But we're already used to roundabouts in these parts.

    I should say some of us are already used to roundabouts....

    July 20, 2009

  • It's about damn time, too. "...a larger question here is whether people who cannot manage to merge at low speed into a counter-clockwise circle and, yes, perhaps even change lanes in that circle, before finding the correct exit should actually be holding licenses that enable them to operate heavy machinery in the first place." Well spake, sir.

    July 20, 2009