AskDefine | Define carousel

Dictionary Definition



1 carries luggage to air travelers [syn: carrousel, luggage carousel, luggage carrousel]
2 large mechanical apparatus with seats for children to ride on [syn: carrousel, merry-go-round, roundabout, whirligig]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • a UK /ˈkæɹəsɛl/ /"k

Extensive Definition

A carousel (or carrousel) is an amusement ride consisting of a rotating platform with seats for passengers. The "seats" are traditionally in the form of wooden horses or animals, which are often moved mechanically up and down to simulate galloping. This leads to one of the machine's alternative names, the galloper. Other popular names are merry-go-round, roundabout and flying horses. Usually, circus music is looped while the ride spins.
Although modern carousels in America are mainly populated with horses, carousels in Europe, and in America from earlier periods, frequently include diverse varieties of mounts, including dogs, cats, rabbits, pigs, and deer, to name a few. And sometimes, regular chairlike seats are used as well.
Any rotating platform may also be called a carousel. In a playground, a merry-go-round is usually a simple, child-powered rotating platform with bars or handles to which children can cling while riding. At an airport, rotating conveyors in the baggage claim area are often called carousels.


The earliest carousel is known from a Byzantine Empire bas-relief dating to around 500 A.D., which depicts riders in baskets suspended from a central pole. The word carousel originates from the Italian garosello and Spanish carosella ("little war"), used by crusaders to describe a combat preparation exercise and game played by Turkish and Arabian horsemen in the 1100s. In a sense this early device could be considered a cavalry training mechanism; it prepared and strengthened the riders for actual combat as they wielded their swords at the mock enemies. European Crusaders discovered this contraption and brought the idea back to their own lands, primarily the ruling lords and kings. There the carousel was kept secret within the castle walls, to be used for training by horsemen; no carousel was allowed out in the public. Eventually some small carousel rides were made and installed for royalty in their private gardens. Soon after that, with the pomp of France and circumstance of Paris a grand game was devised and played in Le Place du Carrousel. Along with a pageantry-filled jousting tournament it also consisted of "combatants" throwing clay balls filled with perfumed water at each other, thus those being hit would smell for days. A highlight of the carrousel was the ring-tilt, in which knights would attempt to spear suspended rings at full gallop.
As for the Turkish and Arabian horseman, a carousel was built around 1680 as a training device for the ring-tilt, consisting of wooden horses suspended from arms branching from a center pole. Riders aimed to spear rings situated around the circumference as the carousel was moved by a man, horse, or mule. With the development of craft guilds and the relative freeing up of the trades in Europe, by the early nineteenth century carousels were being built and operated at various fairs and gatherings in central Europe and England. For example, by 1745 AD, wagonmaker Michael Dentzel had converted his wagonmaking business in what is now southern Germany to a carousel-making enterprise. Animals and mechanisms would be crafted during the winter months and the family and workers would go touring in their wagon train through the region, operating their large menagerie carousel at various venues. Other makers such as Heyn in Germany and Bayol in France were also beginning to make carousels at this time. In its own unique style, England was also rapidly developing a carousel-making tradition.
carousel in Czech: Kolotoč
carousel in Danish: Karrusel
carousel in German: Karussell
carousel in Spanish: Tiovivo
carousel in Esperanto: Karuselo
carousel in French: Carrousel (loisir)
carousel in Indonesian: Korsel
carousel in Hebrew: סחרחרה
carousel in Dutch: Draaimolen
carousel in Dutch Low Saxon: Dreischute
carousel in Japanese: メリーゴーラウンド
carousel in Norwegian: Karusell
carousel in Polish: Karuzela
carousel in Portuguese: Carrossel
carousel in Russian: Карусель
carousel in Silesian: Karasol
carousel in Serbian: Ringišpil
carousel in Finnish: Karuselli
carousel in Swedish: Karusell
carousel in Turkish: Atlıkarınca
carousel in Chinese: 旋轉木馬

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Ferris wheel, Highland games, Olympiad, Olympic games, chute-the-chutes, chutes, disk, field day, flying horses, games, gymkhana, meet, merry-go-round, rally, regatta, roller, roller coaster, rolling stone, rotator, rotor, roundabout, rundle, seesaw, swing, teeter-totter, the Olympics, top, tournament, tourney, track meet, wheel, whip, whirlabout, whirler, whirligig
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