One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A hand-held measuring device incorporating a small wheel that can be rolled over a map or plan, the revolutions of the wheel giving the notional distance travelled on the ground.
2A device with a transparent wall that can be fitted into a pipe or tube to indicate the rate of flow of fluid passing along it.
Early 20th century. From roto- + -meter. Perhaps originally an alteration of rotameter.
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