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round +‎ about [from early 20th c.]


  • IPA(key): /ˈɹaʊndəˌbaʊt/
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roundabout (comparative more roundabout, superlative most roundabout)

  1. Indirect, circuitous, or circumlocutionary.
    • 1896, Robert Barr, “chapter9”, in From Whose Bourne:
      [S]he fled, running like a deer, doubling and turning through alleys and back streets until by a very roundabout road she reached her own room.
    • 1920 March – 1921 February, P[elham] G[renville] Wodehouse, chapter 17, in Indiscretions of Archie, New York, N.Y.: A. L. Burt Company, publishers [], published 1921, →OCLC:
      "Really, Bill, I think your best plan would be to go straight to father and tell him the whole thing.—You don't want him to hear about it in a roundabout way."
    • 2001 December 3, Jim Rutenberg, “Rather Reports Another War”, in New York Times[1], retrieved 3 April 2014:
      Mr. Rather flew to the area in a roundabout fashion, first landing in Bahrain, from there flying to Islamabad and then heading to Kabul by land.
    • 2011, 50 Classic Philosophy Books[2], Golgotha Press, →ISBN:
      Descartes is compelled to fall back upon a curious roundabout argument to prove that there is a world. He must first prove that God exists, and then argue that God would not deceive us into thinking that it exists when it does not.
  2. Encircling; enveloping; comprehensive.
    • 1689 (indicated as 1690), [John Locke], An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding. [], London: [] Eliz[abeth] Holt, for Thomas Basset, [], →OCLC:
      The third sort is of those who readily and sincerely follow reason, but for want of having that which one may call a large, sound, roundabout sense, have not a full view of all that relates to the question.

Derived terms[edit]



roundabout (plural roundabouts)

  1. (chiefly UK, New Zealand, Ireland, Canada, Australia and sometimes US) A road junction at which traffic streams circularly around a central island.
  2. (chiefly British) A horizontal wheel which rotates around a central axis when pushed and on which children ride, often found in parks as a children's play apparatus.
  3. A fairground carousel.
  4. A detour.
  5. A short, close-fitting coat or jacket worn by men or boys, especially in the 19th century.
  6. (archaic) A round dance.

Usage notes[edit]

  • In North America, the use of roundabout varies by region. In some places traffic circle and rotary are more common.


Coordinate terms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]


See also[edit]


roundabout (third-person singular simple present roundabouts, present participle roundabouting, simple past and past participle roundabouted)

  1. To play on a roundabout (carousel)
  2. To travel round roundabouts
  3. To talk in a roundabout, indirect manner