Definition of revolve in English:

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Pronunciation: /rəˈvälv/


[no object]
1Move in a circle on a central axis: overhead, the fan revolved slowly
More example sentences
  • Imagine a fly walking across a man's head as the man strolls down the aisle of a speeding train as the earth revolves on its axis and circles round the sun in a rapidly expanding universe.
  • Its body revolves in a complete circle while its wheels stay put.
  • The crowd is dancing to an Israeli classic, revolving in a giant circle, arms around each other's shoulders.
go around, turn around, rotate, spin
1.1 (revolve around/about) Move in a circular orbit around: the earth revolves around the sun
More example sentences
  • Thousands of galaxies revolve about its center, moving in every possible orbit like bees circling a beehive.
  • The world is seen as a giant clod around which the heavens revolve about a polar axis.
  • A third type of double stars involves a pair of stars revolving about their common center of mass in an orbit whose plane passes through or very near the Earth.
circle, travel, orbit
1.2 (revolve around) Treat as the most important point or element: her life revolved around her husband
More example sentences
  • An important element of the case revolves around which party initially contacted the other.
  • It would have all the commercial elements with a storyline revolving around college students.
  • The bulk of my professional practise has revolved around assessing and treating traumatized individuals.
be concerned with, be preoccupied with, focus on, center on/around
1.3 [with object] Consider (something) repeatedly and from different angles: her mind revolved the possibilities
More example sentences
  • For all of which reasons, I didn't sleep particularly well last night, and found my mind revolving the problem of the island.
  • I revolved these circumstances in my mind, and determined thenceforth to apply myself more particularly to those branches of natural philosophy which relate to physiology.
  • Its symphonic narrative revolves six characters through six ages of man - from the 19th century to distant millennia - then brings them full circle as each one completes their interrupted history.


Late Middle English (in the senses 'turn (the eyes) back', 'restore', 'consider'): from Latin revolvere, from re- 'back' (also expressing intensive force) + volvere 'roll'.

  • The Latin verb volvere had the sense ‘to turn round, roll, tumble’; add re- in front and you get meaning such as ‘turn back, turn round’. This is the basic idea behind revolve and its offshoots: revolution (Late Middle English) which only came to mean the overthrow of a government in 1600, and which developed the form rev for the turning over of a motor in the early 20th century; and revolt (mid 16th century) initially used politically, and developing the sense ‘to make someone turn away in disgust’ in the mid 18th century. The sense ‘roll, tumble’ of volvere developed into vault, both for the sense ‘leap’ (mid 16th century) which came via Old French volter ‘to turn (a horse), gambol’, and for the arch that springs up to form a roof (Middle English). The turning sense is found in voluble (Middle English) initially used to mean ‘turning’, but was used for words rolling out of the mouth by the late 16th century, and in volume (Late Middle English) originally a rolled scroll rather than a book, but with the sense ‘quantity’ coming from an obsolete meaning ‘size or extent (of a book)’ by the early 16th century. Convoluted (late 18th century) comes from convolvere ‘rolled together, intertwined’ (the plant convolvulus, from the same root, that climbs by turning its stem around a support already existed as a word in Latin, where it could also mean a caterpillar that rolls itself up in a leaf); while devolve (Late Middle English) comes from its opposite devolvere ‘to unroll, roll down’; and involve (Late Middle English) from involvere ‘to roll in’.

Words that rhyme with revolve

absolve, devolve, evolve, exsolve, involve, solve

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: re·volve

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