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From Middle French rondelet, diminutive of Old French rondel (French: rondeau). Ending -lay either from lay (ballad or sung poem), or from virelay.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈɹaʊndɪˌleɪ/
  • (file)
  • (General American) IPA(key): /ˈɹaʊndəˌleɪ/


roundelay (plural roundelays)

  1. (music) A poem or song having a line or phrase repeated at regular intervals.
    • 1579, Immeritô [pseudonym; Edmund Spenser], The Shepheardes Calender: [], London: [] Hugh Singleton, [], →OCLC; reprinted as H[einrich] Oskar Sommer, editor, The Shepheardes Calender [], London: John C. Nimmo, [], 1890, →OCLC:
      It fell upon a holly eve,
      Hey ho, hollidaye!
      When holly fathers wont to shrieve,
      Now gynneth this roundelay.
    • 1830, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Poems, Chiefly Lyrical, Song - The Owl:
      When merry milkmaids click the latch
      And rarely smells the new-mown hay,
      And the cock hath sung beneath the thatch
      Twice or thrice his roundelay,
      Twice or thrice his roundelay;
      Alone and warming his five wits,
      The white owl in the belfry sits.
    • 1859, Alfred Tennyson, “(please specify the page)”, in Idylls of the King, London: Edward Moxon & Co., [], →OCLC:
      "Ay, fool," said Tristram, "but 'tis eating dry
      To dance without a catch, a roundelay
      To dance to." Then he twangled on his harp,
      And while he twangled little Dagonet stood
      Quiet as any water-sodden log
      Stay'd in the wandering warble of a brook; []
    • 1903, Howard Pyle, “Chapter First”, in The Story of King Arthur and His Knights, Part II, page 61:
      For then the little birds do sing their sweetest song, all joining in one joyous medley, whereof one may scarce tell one note from another, so multitudinous is that pretty roundelay; []
  2. A dance in a circle.
  3. Anything having a round form; a roundel.

See also[edit]