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  1. a cockroach.
  2. Slang. the butt of a marijuana cigarette.

Origin of roach1

1830–40, Americanism; 1940–45, Americanism for def 2; short form of cockroach


noun, plural roach·es, (especially collectively) roach.
  1. a European freshwater fish, Rutilus rutilus, of the carp family.
  2. any of various similar fishes, as the golden shiner.
  3. a freshwater sunfish of the genus Lepomis, found in eastern North America.

Origin of roach2

1275–1325; Middle English roche < Old French < ?


  1. Nautical.
    1. the upward curve at the foot of a square sail.
    2. (loosely) a convexity given to any of the edges of a sail; round.
  2. hair combed up from the forehead or temples in a roll or high curve.
verb (used with object)
  1. to clip or cut off (the mane of a horse); hog.
  2. to comb (hair) into a roach.

Origin of roach3

First recorded in 1785–95; origin uncertain


  1. MaxwellMax, 1924–2007, U.S. jazz drummer and bandleader.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for roach

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Not a bit of it, Roach; Mark says the fellow mistook you for Cassidy.

    The O'Donoghue

    Charles James Lever

  • Come, come, Roach, don't be angry; it's all past and over now; the fellow did it for the best.

    The O'Donoghue

    Charles James Lever

  • Structurally, said Dr. Boreas of Leamington, structurally you are as sound as a roach.

  • A roach snapped idly at him as he floundered past the shoal.

  • Besides she had got it into her head that Leonora, who was as sound as a roach, was consumptive.

    The Good Soldier

    Ford Madox Ford

British Dictionary definitions for roach


noun plural roaches or roach
  1. a European freshwater cyprinid food fish, Rutilus rutilus, having a deep compressed body and reddish ventral and tail fins
  2. any of various similar fishes

Word Origin

C14: from Old French roche, of obscure origin


  1. short for cockroach
  2. slang the butt of a cannabis cigarette


noun nautical
  1. the amount by which the leech of a fore-and-aft sail projects beyond an imaginary straight line between the clew and the head
  2. the curve at the foot of a square sail

Word Origin

C18: of unknown origin


  1. Hal, full name Harald Eugene Roach . 1892–1992, US film producer, whose company produced numerous comedy films in the 1920s and 1930s, including those featuring Harold Lloyd and Laurel and Hardy
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for roach


shortened form of cockroach, 1837, on mistaken notion that it was a compound. In contemporary writing said to be from a polite desire to avoid the sexual connotation in the first syllable. Meaning "butt of a marijuana cigarette" is first recorded 1938, perhaps from resemblance to the insect, but perhaps a different word entirely.


small freshwater fish, c.1200, from Old French roche (13c.), of uncertain origin, perhaps from a Germanic source. Applied to similar-looking fish in North America.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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