Definition of zoetrope in English:



  • A 19th-century optical toy consisting of a cylinder with a series of pictures on the inner surface that, when viewed through slits with the cylinder rotating, give an impression of continuous motion.

    • ‘Two turntables (zoetropes, to be exact) on each side of the stage spin faster and faster until a circle of statues begin a tribal dance.’
    • ‘He built a primitive zoetrope at the age of 12, which played a minute-long cartoon.’
    • ‘Submedia Advertising, which developed the technology based on a 19th century toy, the zoetrope, expects 7.4 million to see the ad over one month.’
    • ‘The green blur of the commuter train as it speeds in the night draws a streak of light like a zoetrope, one of the many visual surprises.’
    • ‘A favorite assignment was designing a giant zoetrope, which projects images through slits in a revolving wheel, for a toy store.’


Mid 19th century: formed irregularly from Greek zōē life + -tropos turning.