Definition of roundelay in English:



  • 1A short, simple song with a refrain.

    • ‘Metz's new arrangement focuses on ensembles supporting the soloists, and a concluding sixteen-bar roundelay with piano exchanges between clarinet, saxophone, trombone, and drums.’
    • ‘I've passed girls singing choral roundelays on Holyrood Road.’
    • ‘They sat next to each other, face-to face, in the background, a roundelay of harp music playing softly.’
    • ‘Perhaps my enjoyment of these most recent deathbed roundelays has been offset a bit by listening recently to some of his earlier work that follows his sobriety but precedes his mortality.’
    1. 1.1 A circle dance.
      • ‘The film is a roundelay of unfulfilled desires: Frances is a beautiful woman, now dying, who wants to heal the emotional damage she's left in her wake.’
      • ‘There is a comic roundelay that makes sense on its face, but if you think about it for a second, you realize how forced and unreal it is.’
      • ‘Many felt the director did just that with this film, a clever but routine roundelay of British aristocracy and murder.’
      • ‘The conflict between the reproductive roundelays exists as a perceived never-ending engagement between emotion and detachment, machismo and tenderness.’
      • ‘There ensues a roundelay of sex and jealousy and demands on Guido, interspersed with memories of his dead mother and the 9-year-old Guido's discovery of erotics.’
      • ‘Art historians have their own part to play in this roundelay.’
      • ‘The only real connective tissue is the nonsense refrain of the title, which seems to slur through a dozen pair of wet, loose lips during this roundelay of partying.’


Late Middle English: from Old French rondelet, from rondel (see rondel). The change in the ending was due to association with the final syllable of virelay.