rotary (adj.) 1731, from M.L. rotarius "pertaining to wheels," from L. rota "wheel," from PIE root *roto- "to run, to turn, to roll" (Cf. Skt. rathah "car, chariot;" Avestan ratho; Lith. ratas "wheel," ritu "I roll;" O.H.G. rad, Ger. Rad, Du. rad, O.Fris. reth, O.S. rath, O.Ir. roth, Welsh rhod "carriage wheel"). The international service club (founded by Paul P. Harris in Chicago in 1905) so called from the practice of clubs entertaining in rotation. Hence Rotarian (1911).

Etymology dictionary. 2014.

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