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Chris -- 2018-04-11

#1 2011-03-19 00:39:42

From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2589

round robbing << round robin

In the eighteenth century the phrase “round robin” described a way of submitting signatures to an authority. The term was borrowed, it was believed, from nautical life. A document from the 1730s defines the phrase this way: “A Round Robin is a Name given by Seamen, to an Instrument on which they sign their Names round a Circle, to prevent the Ring~leader being discover’d by it, if found.”

Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable suggests that sailors borrowed “round robin” from a French political term, rond ruban (round ribbon), that was also a way of concealing signatures.

The nautical derivation with its circle of names has the smell of a folk etymology. I think the French origin of the term likely, but a “round ribbon” may have denoted some other concealing trick. A beginningless name circle by “ring” leaders is too clever by half.

By the end of the nineteenth century the nautical term had been appropriated to describe a tournament playoff in which each team plays every other team at least once (i.e., there is no champion at the head of the list of teams that everyone has to beat – the team matchups describe a circle with the head of the line connecting to the tail). In current English the sense has broadened. It now includes actions which involve selecting items in turn from a collection of targets. When I was up to my neck (read “over my head”) in computer science, we employed the phrase “round robin” to describe a way of sharing processing load among several servers.

A popular twist on the semantically opaque “round robin” is “round robbing.” The image may be that of removing (robbing) losers from the match round so that the winners can advance to a new match (round). Examples:

E-zine article: “With 32 teams from vying for honors first in a round robbing format of 4 teams each in 8 groups, and later, a one-legged knock out format from the 2nd round down to the final, I am sure I echo the feelings of football fans the world over when i say “I just can’t wait”!”

Article on a regatta: “The courses were windward/leeward with finishes to weather to facilitate the boat changes required by a round robbing event. ”

Microsoft server forum: “The broker node uses a round-robbing algorithm to separate calculations to all nodes”

I also see a few instances of a few instances of “round-rubbing.”

Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.



#2 2011-03-19 18:51:49

David Bird
From: Montréal, QC
Registered: 2009-07-28
Posts: 1553

Re: round robbing << round robin

Nice discovery. I grant your explanation too. As ever, the acorn is impenetrable, a French idiotisme as they put it. Round rubbing makes the better sense to me in context.

There are a few suggestive “round ribbon” hits. Could they have found their way back untutored?

Table Tennis Montreal
To those who are interested in playing let’s meet up and have some sort or round-ribbon tournament or just regular matches!!!

Fencing Grand Prix in Russia
In order to fill the 48 places left in the main circuit all the rest of the fencers fought round ribbon bouts in groups of seven fencers.

Boxing forum
I would have liked to see Dempsey, Marciano, Frazier and Tyson have a round ribbon Tournament against each other, each of them fighting the other 3.

Edit: More support for round robbing comes from round robbers.

Anime games competition
one question.Is this an elimination style tournament and Zizibaluba is eliminated or is this a Round Robber tourney?

Chinese Tennis competition
Three pairs of double players from each association took part in a total of 9 sets round robber matches.

Last edited by David Bird (2011-03-21 20:25:15)



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