Definition of roustabout in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈroustəˌbout/


1An unskilled or casual laborer.
Example sentences
  • It's the place of choice for all sorts of hard-living roustabouts who come into town to blow off a little steam after long days, weeks or even months of toil in the mines and lumber camps.
  • You never know whether you're talking to a roustabout or someone with a PhD in physical science.
  • He was a roustabout, he herded sheep, he was a streetcar motorman.
1.1A laborer on an oil rig.
Example sentences
  • While there is no hardship pay for working offshore, entry-level roustabouts on the drilling rig still begin at about $30,000 per year.
  • During the interior secretary's tenure in the 1980s, he jumped to more lucrative work as a pumper, roughneck, and roustabout on Wyoming's oil wells.
  • The bump-backs cascade down the hierarchy of skills and seniority; the roustabouts and roughnecks in lesser-skilled positions and typically of recent hire go walking.
1.2North American A dock laborer or deckhand.
Example sentences
  • A rig could be brought from Singapore or Perth and there would be opportunities for Hawke's Bay people to work on it as roustabouts and engineers.
1.3North American A circus laborer.
Example sentences
  • The race quickly becomes a contest between Borghese's Italia and the Spyker, driven by a Dutch circus roustabout.
  • He had a rich and varied career, as fairground boxer, circus roustabout, cartoonist, poster designer, trades-union journal editor, television presenter, and towards the end of his life, psychotherapist.
  • Every one of the musicians in the orchestra have spent uncounted numbers of hours to become the fine, cohesive, interpretive group they are and you treat them like three-ring roustabouts.


Mid 19th century: from the verb roust.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: roust·a·bout

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