A carousel is pretty much the same thing as a merry-go-round; it's a carnival ride on a large, rotating platform.

Carousel is the proper term if the ride only has horses, whereas a merry-go-round can have anything (animals, cars, etc.)

The carousel was developed in France where, originally, it was used to hone lancing skills. A person would sit on the wooden horse and try to spear a brass ring with his lance.

See: http://charlene.cyber-crew.com/carousel.html

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