General English


  • noun a list showing when different members of staff will do certain duties

Information & Library Science

  • noun a list of people who take turns to do a job


  • acronym forreturn on total assets
    (written as ROTA)

Origin & History of “rota”

Latin rota denoted ‘wheel’: it came ultimately from a prehistoric Indo-European base *reth- meaning ‘run, roll’, which also produced German rad ‘wheel’. It was introduced into English in 1659 by the republican James Harrington as the name for a political club he founded to advocate his idea that government office should be held in rotation.

Derivatives of rota have contributed richly to English. Medieval Latin rotārius has given rotary (18th c.). From the verb rotāre ‘revolve’ have come rotate (19th c.) and, via its Spanish descendant rodear, rodeo (19th c.) (etymologically a ‘rounding-up’ or ‘surrounding’ of cattle). Rotundus, a derivative of rotāre, has produced rotund (18th c.) and round. The diminutive form rotulus has given control and roll. And roue ‘wheel’, the French descendant of rota, is the source of roué (18th c.), etymologically someone broken on the ‘wheel’.