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a merry-go-round


(This etymology is missing or incomplete. Please add to it, or discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.) Possibly from go round (= rotate) merrily.


  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈmɛ.ɹi.ɡoʊ.ɹaʊnd/, /ˈmɛ.ɹi.ɡə.ɹaʊnd/


merry-go-round (plural merry-go-rounds)

  1. A carousel; a pleasure ride, typically found at fairs and amusement parks, consisting of a slowly revolving circular platform on which various seats are fixed, frequently shaped like horses or other animals.
    Synonyms: carousel, roundabout
  2. A piece of playground equipment consisting of a circular platform that is made to revolve by pushing while users stand on it.
  3. (figuratively) A meaningless cycle; a bustle of activity that gets nowhere
    • 1997, Strangelove (band), The Greatest Show on Earth (song)
      There's no time for happiness today
      Got a date for lunch, a plastic tray
      Got a deal to sign her life away
      Got an early grave she's gotta make
      And we are all insane
      Hold on
      Slow down
      You'll never get to heaven on this merry-go-round []
  4. (rail transport) A freight train of hopper wagons which loads and unloads its cargo while moving, a balloon loop being provided at power stations.
    • 1963 January, G. F. Fiennes, “The "Merry-go-Round" railway - a new plan for mineral trains”, in Modern Railways, page 23:
      Some of the desirable characteristics of the "Merry-go-round" railway described in this article are found in the Tyne Dock-Consett iron ore traffic of the N.E.R. The ore is carried in high capacity wagons, run in trains of fixed formation. A triangle at the Consett works enables each train, complete with its locomotive, to be turned and sent back without any remarshalling after unloading to Tyne Dock. At the quayside, the wagons are mechanically loaded as a train and at Consett they run directly on to a gantry above unloading bunkers; they have air-operated bottom-discharge doors worked from the locomotive.
  5. (baseball, figuratively) A series of singles and doubles that allow the batting team to score while still having runners on base who can be driven in by the next batter.
    Russell kept the merry-go-round moving with an RBI single that advanced Henderson to third.
  6. (Kenya) A cooperative scheme in which members regularly contribute money to a pool, and the collected money is then paid out to one of the members, repeating so that every member has eventually received the collected money.



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