Definition of roll in English:

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Pronunciation: /rōl/


1Move or cause to move in a particular direction by turning over and over on an axis: [no object]: the car rolled down into a ditch [with object]: she rolled the ball across the floor
More example sentences
  • A ball rolls slowly into the frame, its impetus unseen.
  • But the car is already wrecked against a tree, and a beach ball rolls away from it.
  • One shocking scene shows street children assaulting a wino and gleefully rolling him down the stairs, punishment for his spiritual and physical corruption.
turn round and round, go round and round, turn over and over, spin, rotate
1.1Turn or cause to turn over to face a different direction: [no object]: she rolled onto her side [with object]: they rolled him over onto his back
More example sentences
  • She shrugged, and then rolled off to her side, yawning and falling asleep.
  • I sighed and rolled onto my stomach, lying face down on the cot.
  • I rolled onto my stomach and lay there for a while.
1.2 [with object] Turn (one’s eyes) upward, typically to show surprise or disapproval: Sarah rolled her eyes
More example sentences
  • Nothing says humiliation like having a group of kids roll their eyes and point at you, disappointed that your lanky body will be gracing their team.
  • My favourite moment in the film is when Marto says he could give up the drugs easily and his girlfriend rolls her eyes.
  • The actor just rolls his eyes and makes the occasional face.
1.3 [no object] (Of a person or animal) lie down and turn over and over while remaining in the same place: the buffalo rolled in the dust
More example sentences
  • I must have spent 10 or 15 minutes rolling on the floor in agony.
  • They wound up rolling around on the floor.
  • I had stopped some of my childhood fun such as running with the village boys and catching fish and rolling in the dirt and had started acting more like a young woman.
1.4 [no object] (Of a moving ship, aircraft, or vehicle) rock or oscillate around an axis parallel to the direction of motion: the ship pitched and rolled
More example sentences
  • The boat rolled and nodded gently.
  • Our boarding party had to get aboard a ship rolling and heaving in large seas.
  • The aircraft rolled off to the left prior to slicing nose low to 90 degrees down.
lurch, toss, rock, pitch, plunge, sway, reel, list, keel
1.5 [no object] Move along or from side to side unsteadily or uncontrollably: they were rolling about with laughter
More example sentences
  • All you could hear were people rolling around with laughter.
  • Within a matter of minutes Scott and I are pretty much rolling around the place.
  • The moment I tried it I was rolling all over the place.
stagger, lurch, reel, totter, teeter, wobble
1.6 [with object] North American informal Overturn (a vehicle): he rolled his Mercedes in a 100 mph crash
More example sentences
  • He hit the kerb and rolled his car.
  • He began drinking heavily, and after one sodden evening at a local bar he rolled his car on the highway.
  • It was really scary rolling the car like that.
1.7 [with object] Throw (a die or dice).
Example sentences
  • As they roll the dice, a window in the middle of the game delivers decidedly sinister messages.
  • Before Leah could roll the dice an ominous knock was heard at the door.
  • As he put it, he had rolled his dice and he had lost.
1.8 [with object] Obtain (a particular score) by doing this: roll a 2, 3, or 12
More example sentences
  • If a player rolled a twelve, he collected all the coins on the board.
  • The odds of rolling a six with one die are 1 in six.
  • From now on, if anyone rolls a double-one or a double-six, all moves are reversed for the next turn, okay?
2 [no object] (Of a vehicle) move or run on wheels: the van was rolling along the highway
More example sentences
  • There follows a four and a half minute high-angle shot of a carriage wheel rolling along a dirt road, while a male voice-over narration reads a letter the novelist had written to his daughter.
  • But as they tear down the dirt roads in the dead of night, a truck rolls out of nowhere, they lose control, and their car ends up in a ditch.
  • A pickup truck rolls down a dark highway.
travel, go, move, pass, cruise, sweep
2.1 [with object] Move or push (a wheeled object): Pat rolled the cart back and forth
More example sentences
  • The trashcan is wheeled, so the whole can be lifted and rolled, though it would require some effort.
  • As I rolled the shopping cart toward the front door to exit the store, a bell went off.
  • For a while, he joined the kid on the floor, rolling the toy truck across the room and watching the small boy run after it jubilantly.
wheel, push, trundle
2.2 (roll something up/down) Make a car window or a window blind move up or down.
Example sentences
  • He rolls the window down and puts on his seat belt.
  • As the police officer walked toward her, she rolled her window down and smiled politely.
  • He rolled the windows down and turned the radio up.
2.3(Of time) elapse steadily: the years rolled by
More example sentences
  • As more time rolled on, he too became tired.
  • As the years rolled by, we began to see light at the end of the tunnel.
  • They discussed various life events, and learned bits about each other as the days rolled on.
pass, pass by, go by, slip by, fly by, elapse, wear on, march on
2.4(Of a drop of liquid) flow: huge tears rolled down her cheeks
More example sentences
  • A single tear rolls down her cheek, and she folds in on herself.
  • As the movie started, tears began to roll down my cheeks.
  • Was it exploitation by going in and watching tears roll down their faces?
flow, run, course, stream, pour, spill, trickle
2.5 (roll off) (Of a product) issue from (an assembly line or machine): the first copies of the newspaper rolled off the presses
More example sentences
  • Increased competition has also led to superior quality products rolling off the local assembly lines.
  • That's unheard of in an industry where design, engineering, and manufacturing often argue over quality problems right up until the first car rolls off the assembly line.
  • Suddenly, Brazilians had money to spend - but not on the outmoded, second-rate models that had been rolling off local assembly lines.
2.6(Of waves, smoke, cloud, or fog) move or flow forward with an undulating motion: the fog rolled across the fields
More example sentences
  • Sometimes the shift between panels is as subtle as fog rolling through, so that one looks closely to identify the change.
  • It's like being on a wave rolling into shore; you can't fight it.
  • A late-afternoon haze rolls over the hills.
billow, undulate, tumble
2.7(Of land) extend in gentle undulations.
2.8(Of credits for a movie or television program) be displayed as if moving on a roller up the screen.
Example sentences
  • Sure, there are plot holes, but most of them don't become apparent until long after the end credits have rolled and the film is being analyzed in a post-screening discussion.
  • It's the kind of film that sticks with you after the credits roll…
  • At the end, while the credits roll, we are shown the reactions of the actors on seeing the film for the first time.
2.9(With reference to a machine, device, or system) operate or begin operating: [no object]: the cameras started to roll [with object]: roll the camera
More example sentences
  • The first plate is prepared, ink is spread on the rollers, paper is laid on the press bed and the machine rolls into action.
  • The planter was rolling at 6 a.m. every day and didn't stop until 11 p.m.
  • He just placed seven cameras with infrared tape and microphones in different areas of his studio and let them roll.
2.10 [no object] informal Start moving; take action: the coast’s clear—let’s roll
More example sentences
  • If you two don't mind, it's time to roll!
  • The moment Ed Lake heard the words, he thought: All right. Let's roll!
  • "Come on guys, let's roll."
2.11 [no object] informal Behave in a particular way: that’s just how I roll, guys—I’ll smile until I physically can’t
More example sentences
  • That comment is inappropriate: I don't know what website you think you are on, but that is not how we roll.
  • Dads aren't worried if you forget them, that is the way we roll in the Dad world.
  • I told her I don't make financial decisions without consulting my husband: that's not how we roll.
3 [with object] Turn (something flexible) over and over on itself to form a cylinder, tube, or ball: she started to roll up her sleeping bag
More example sentences
  • If a print is too large and has to be rolled and sent in a tube, it should be taken out immediately after it arrived at its destination.
  • Paintings can be rolled and carried in a pocket.
  • He looks back at his usual table and sees Gilbert finish his coffee, roll up his paper, and exit.
wind, coil, fold, curl;
3.1Make by forming material into a cylinder or ball: [with two objects]: Harry rolled himself a joint
More example sentences
  • He sits hunched on his stool, rolling himself a cigarette.
  • She took out a packet of tobacco, rolled herself a cigarette and lit it from the candle that was burning on the table.
  • He rolled a spliff, left his house and began to walk towards Woolstone Road.
3.2 [no object] (Of a person or animal) curl up tightly: the shock made the armadillo roll into a ball
More example sentences
  • She rolled into a ball on the floor.
  • If you give an armadillo a fright, he'll stop, and drop, and roll up tight.
  • Pull your knees into your chest, hugging them, and roll into a ball.
4 [with object] Flatten or spread (something) by using a roller or by passing it between rollers: roll out the dough on a floured surface roll on a decorative paint finish
More example sentences
  • They learned how to roll cheese from a team of brawny factory workers who made fun of the tiny women even as they insisted on perfection.
  • By rolling down the cover crop in spring instead of mowing it, the cover crop takes longer to decompose and becomes a weed-suppressing mulch.
  • On a lightly floured surface roll the pastry into a rectangle.
flatten (out), level (out);
even out
5 [no object] (Of a loud, deep sound such as that of thunder or drums) reverberate: the first peals of thunder rolled across the sky
More example sentences
  • But the lightening has flashed and the thunder rolled…
  • Captivated by the breathtaking scenery, his sensitive response to nature encapsulated his impression of the roar of the waves rolling into the cavern and the cries of the seabirds.
  • Lightning forked the sky outside and the thunder rolled down the hills in a tumble.
rumble, reverberate, echo, resound, boom, roar, grumble
5.1 [with object] Pronounce (a consonant, typically an r) with a trill: when he wanted to emphasize a point he rolled his rrrs
More example sentences
  • When he spoke, his peculiar way of rolling his r's made him difficult to understand.
  • Her fake accent irritated me a bit -- particularly the way she rolled the letter R.
  • Croatian speakers are used to rolling the ‘r’ sound in all of the words in their Native language.
5.2 [with object] Utter (a word or words) with a reverberating or vibratory effect: he rolled the word around his mouth
More example sentences
  • He rolls his lines around in his mouth as if relishing their taste, and you can almost smell the bourbon and cigars on his breath when he talks.
  • He rolls each syllable of ‘Lo-li-ta’ across the tip of his tongue.
  • ‘She is goooorrrrrgeous, isn't she?’ he asks, rolling the words around in his mouth.
5.3(Of words) flow effortlessly or mellifluously: the names of his colleagues rolled off his lips
More example sentences
  • If he could, he would have let the words roll off his tongue.
  • They stuck together for years, and the names still roll off the tongue.
  • The writing was excellent, with Verity's sarcastic one-liners to customers simply rolling off the tongue.
6 [with object] informal Rob (someone, typically when they are intoxicated or asleep): if you don’t get drunk, you don’t get rolled
More example sentences
  • There are 32 hours I blacked out, but I think I mostly watched television and maybe rolled a liquor store.
  • He was rolled by a group of hooligans.
  • She rolled a bank in Albuquerque.


1A cylinder formed by winding flexible material around a tube or by turning it over and over on itself without folding: a roll of carpet
More example sentences
  • He buys paper in a roll and cuts it himself into 32-by 40-inch sheets.
  • He said that he pictured him pulling the paper from a roll and cutting and tearing it where it suits him.
  • Here are some new photos from the one roll of film which I just got back today.
cylinder, tube, scroll;
reel, spool
1.1A cylindrical mass of something or a number of items arranged in a cylindrical shape: a roll of mints
More example sentences
  • The left panel depicts a portion of a roll of shiny steel being formed at a factory.
  • It looked like rolls of thick sausage on their stomachs.
  • Protruding out the open sides were thick rolls of flesh that undulated like two well-fed seals.
1.2 [with modifier] An item of food that is made by wrapping a flat sheet of pastry, cake, meat, or fish around a sweet or savory filling: salmon and rice rolls
More example sentences
  • Casual classics such as fried clams, fish and chips and lobster rolls are transformed into elegant fare.
  • The processing plant now produces several types of dough and bread products, including its latest addition: a frozen cinnamon roll that can be microwaved.
  • The little bistro offers excellent breakfasts of fluffy scrambled eggs, warm cinnamon rolls, and frothy lattes.
1.3North American & Australian Money, typically a quantity of banknotes rolled together.
Example sentences
  • He pulled a huge roll of fifties and twenties from his pocket.
  • In his pocket was a roll of notes, his pay-off for the night's work.
  • He pulls a roll of notes from his back pocket and peels off a tenner.
wad, bundle
1.4A roller for flattening something, especially one used to shape metal in a rolling mill.
Example sentences
  • The heated bars pass through the rolls seven to eight times.
  • As the sheets of metal pass through the rolls, they are squeezed thinner and extruded through the gap between the rolls.
  • Steel sheets are manufactured in a rolling process where the rolls are used to reduce the sheet thickness and to achieve the desired surface characteristics.
2A movement in which someone or something turns or is turned over on itself: a roll of the dice the ponies completed two rolls before getting back on their feet
More example sentences
  • Rain drops, dices rolls, the clack of betting chips, and peasants working in the fields all make their own sort of music.
  • He continually plays to the courtroom audience with rolls of his eyes, rubbing his head, or agitated fanning of his face.
  • Suddenly the art houses of America turned on him with a collective eye roll.
throw, toss, turn, spin
2.1A gymnastic exercise in which the body is rolled into a tucked position and turned in a forward or backward circle: I used my momentum and tucked into a roll
More example sentences
  • As part of our warm up, we were doing tumbles and on one of them (a reverse handstand into a roll) I stupidly hit my own face with my knee.
  • She throws herself into a roll and ends up with legs and feet at all angles.
  • She sees stars wheel overhead, the world tumbling around her, and she turns her tumble into a roll.
2.2A swaying or oscillation of a ship, aircraft, or vehicle around an axis parallel to the direction of motion: the car corners capably with a minimum of roll
More example sentences
  • The chassis displays impressive levels of composure and minimal roll through the turns.
  • The system can directly measure the roll of the vehicle frame as it passes over such terrain.
  • At every roll of the boat the water would rush in.
2.3Undulation of the landscape: hidden by the roll of the land was a refinery
More example sentences
  • The gentle roll of the hills pleases the senses.
  • The dip and roll of the country conceals low hills topped by historic towns.
  • The neatly planted rows of corn and sugar beets accentuate the gentle roll of the landscape.
3A prolonged, deep, reverberating sound, typically made by thunder or a drum: thunder exploded, roll after roll
More example sentences
  • A sudden roll of thunder rumbled over the meadow.
  • A loud roll of thunder filled the air of the streets of the city.
  • Dark clouds gathered, there was the distant, yet unmistakable roll of thunder.
rumble, reverberation, echo, boom, clap, crack, roar, grumble
3.1 Music One of the basic patterns (rudiments) of drumming, consisting of a sustained, rapid alternation of single or double strokes of each stick.
Example sentences
  • The orchestral instrument uses softer beaters, like giant timpani sticks, often double-ended so that a roll may be played one-handed by twisting the wrist.
  • Learn how to play a six stroke roll on the drums in this free video music lesson.
  • Remember, you are not limited to playing a roll on the snare drum!
4A very small loaf of bread, to be eaten by one person: soup with a roll
More example sentences
  • The bakery produces organic breads, rolls, and cookies.
  • We make 150 different types of breads and rolls out of this plant.
  • The organic burgers and all-beef polish sausages will be served with organic condiments on organic rolls.
bread roll, bun, bagel, hoagie, kaiser roll
5An official list or register of names.
Example sentences
  • Their names read like a roll of the literary and artistic talents of that brilliant age.
  • He wasn't a class officer or an honor roll geek, but he was certainly above average in just about everything he did.
  • Such responsibility and stewardship seems to characterize these and all the other projects in this year's honor roll.
list, register, directory, record, file, index, catalog, inventory, address book;
5.1The total numbers on an official list of names: a review of secondary schools to assess the effects of falling rolls
More example sentences
  • For dairy, which employed nearly 137,000 people three years ago, employment rolls are expected to fall 9.3 percent in the next seven years.
  • She said she would support the proposal because of concern about the falling school rolls.
  • This is not a case of falling school rolls and a declining area.
5.2A document, typically an official record, in scroll form.
Example sentences
  • The roll appears to have been commissioned by one Sir Thomas Chaworth in the 1320s and passed by descent until sold privately by the Chaworth Musters family in 1988.
  • They also occur for his father, John Ashby, in a roll dated c.1480-1500.
  • Illuminated manuscripts are handwritten books or rolls with painted decoration and illustration.



a roll in the hay (or the sack)

informal An act of sexual intercourse.
Example sentences
  • She'd been enjoying regular rolls in the hay with the England manager.
  • She just had no sexual appetite and her husband was complaining bitterly about the infrequent rolls in the hay.
  • She didn't intend to give him the impression she was ready for a roll in the sack.

be rolling (in money)

informal Be very rich.
Example sentences
  • The common perception that farmers are rolling in money, could not be further from the truth.
  • At the same time, people see where you are, at the top of the League, and people think the club must be rolling in money again.
  • I don't want people to feel that the Government is rolling in money.

on a roll

informal Experiencing a prolonged spell of success or good luck: the organization is on a roll
More example sentences
  • With his last few albums, he has been on a roll, consistently producing jazz of the very highest standard.
  • New Zealand film is apparently on a roll according to our media.
  • All the smaller underground clubs are on a roll and the commercialised side of dance music is starting to wane.

rolled into one

(Of characteristics drawn from different people or things) combined in one person or thing: banks are several businesses rolled into one
More example sentences
  • The online company certainly has changed, but even now it is a hybrid: a bookstore, magazine and electronic agora all rolled into one.
  • It is essentially three movies rolled into one: a traditional superhero story, a coming-of-age tale, and a romance.
  • It's a tone poem, a scathing indictment of the Texas public health system, a tragedy, and a music video all rolled into one.

rolling in the aisles

informal (Of an audience) laughing uncontrollably.
Example sentences
  • To be fair, this is just the kind of lowbrow humor that will have junior high and high school students rolling in the aisles.
  • Surely by now, you must be rolling in the aisles?
  • There are a few decent jokes, but nothing that'll have you rolling in the aisles with splitting sides.

roll of honor

A list of people whose deeds or achievements are honored, or who have died in battle.
Example sentences
  • The professor, with the help of many colleagues acknowledged in a list that reads like a roll of honour for services to the real and now threatened NHS, has written a brave, necessary book.
  • Thousands of motorcyclists participated in the Star Rider programme developed by Fingal County Council that topped the roll of honour at the Irish Road Safety Endeavour Awards.
  • They've never nailed their name to the European Cup roll of honour.

roll of the dice

see dice.

roll one's own

informal Make one’s own cigarettes from loose tobacco.
Example sentences
  • Plus, and this is a big plus, you don't smoke as much tobacco when you roll your own.
  • He has smoked for 55 years, for many years he rolled his own, and later switched to 2-3 packs/day.
  • As the settlement exerts a greater effect and cigarette prices rise, some smokers may switch from full-price to discount brands or roll their own, at least for a while.

roll up one's sleeves

Prepare to fight or work.
Example sentences
  • He is prepared to roll up his sleeves and get stuck in.
  • Be prepared to roll up your sleeves and get down to business.
  • We are prepared to roll up our sleeves and work for as long as necessary to make progress.

roll with the punches

(Of a boxer) move one’s body away from an opponent’s blows so as to lessen the impact.
Example sentences
  • Least I forget, he was slipping punches or rolling with the punches to diminish their impact.
  • Some nights, like his fight with Davey Moore, he'd roll with the punches.
  • His technique was to roll with the punches.
10.1Adapt oneself to adverse circumstances.
Example sentences
  • Arguably, Ireland has rolled with the punches and adapted to necessary change.
  • But they are experts and know what to do to roll with the punches.
  • He kind of just rolls with the punches and sees things for what they are.

Phrasal verbs


roll something back

Reverse the progress or reduce the power or importance of something: her bid to roll back state power
More example sentences
  • Many of the gains made in the last 30 years have been rolled back.
  • Fourteen countries report new cases of polio - stark proof that scientific advances can be rolled back, given enough bad policy.
  • The protesters said if the decision of the government was not rolled back by August 1, they would be compelled to intensify the agitation.

roll in

informal Be received in large amounts: the money was rolling in
More example sentences
  • As the drinks flow and the money rolls in, Moe takes credit for the creation and cuts Homer out completely.
  • Now all 20th Century Fox had to do was wait for the money to start rolling in.
  • It's a time-tested formula: take some young talented stars, throw them in a genre piece, and watch the money roll in.
pour in, flood in, flow in
2.1Arrive at a place in a casual way, typically in spite of being late: Steve rolled in about lunchtime
More example sentences
  • A spirited ‘Five Days In May,’ followed as some stragglers still rolled in.
  • She rolled in after 7pm again tonight.
  • He rolled in at eight this morning.
arrive, turn up, appear, show one's face
informal show up, blow in

roll something out

Officially launch or unveil a new product or service: the firm rolled out its newest generation of supercomputers
More example sentences
  • The new products will be rolled out over the course of the fourth calendar quarter.
  • Since the launch, new applications have been rolled out gradually.
  • These issues will become more significant as new services are rolled out.
unroll, spread out, unfurl, unfold, open (out), unwind, uncoil

roll something over

Finance Contrive or extend a particular financial arrangement: this is not a good time for rolling over corporate debt
More example sentences
  • The government announced last week it would roll the debt over to the next financial year.
  • You can remove these contributions from the plan tax-free before rolling the money over, although other penalties could apply.
  • Normally, trust companies roll these bonds over when they mature instead of redeeming them.
4.1Carry over prize money in a lottery from one draw to the next, especially because the jackpot has not been won.

roll up

informal Arrive in a vehicle: we rolled up at the same time
More example sentences
  • The bus rolls up to the porticoed entrance, literally bypassing the parking and traffic problems that the foundation's neighbors have been suing about.
  • One afternoon, while writing their names in wet cement, a car rolls up beside them and a man, claiming to be a cop, steps out.
  • With perfect timing, friendly Mick Taylor rolls up in his truck to save the day - except that the three young tourists are about to be led on a horrific journey into outback Australia's wildest heart of darkness.
fold (up), furl, wind up, coil (up), bundle up

roll something up

Military Drive the flank of an enemy line back and around so that the line is shortened or surrounded.
Example sentences
  • We had arrived in a great position to roll them up from the flank.
  • Unable to roll the line up, Rommel needed to break through it to get supplies to his armour, fighting hard to its east.
  • The most dangerous situation is to be drawn deep in among buildings where the enemy can ambush the attack and roll it up.



Example sentences
  • Spy cameras small enough to peep out a button hole, long enough to extend through a wall between two hotel rooms and rollable to move over documents will be displayed.
  • Postings described such things as a Web-based system for taking opinion polls; a laboratory bench that prints documents; and a heated, rollable pad for covering a sidewalk before a snowstorm.
  • The company will demonstrate rollable displays for use in the mobile devices at the conference, which opens tomorrow.


Middle English: from Old French rolle (noun), roller (verb), from Latin rotulus 'a roll', variant of rotula 'little wheel', diminutive of rota.

  • Roll goes back ultimately to Latin rotula ‘little wheel’ and is related to an actor's part or role in a play or film, which entered English from French roule ‘roll’, referring to the roll of paper on which the part would originally have been written. Enrol (Late Middle English) originally referred to the names being written on the roll. If you roll with the punches (mid 20th century) you adapt yourself to difficult circumstances. The image here is of a boxer moving their body away from an opponent's blows so as to lessen the impact. A rolling stone is someone who does not settle in one place for long. The expression comes from the proverb which has been around in various languages from at least the 15th century, that a rolling stone gathers no moss. The Rolling Stones took their name not directly from the proverb but from a song by the US blues musician Muddy Waters.

Words that rhyme with roll

barcarole, bole, bowl, cajole, coal, Cole, condole, console, control, dhole, dole, droll, enrol (US enroll), extol, foal, goal, hole, Joel, knoll, kohl, mol, mole, Nicole, parol, parole, patrol, pole, poll, prole, rôle, scroll, Seoul, shoal, skoal, sole, soul, stole, stroll, thole, Tirol, toad-in-the-hole, toll, troll, vole, whole

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: roll

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