barrel roll

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noun Aeronautics.
a maneuver in which an airplane executes a complete roll by revolving once around its longitudinal axis.
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Origin of barrel roll

First recorded in 1930–35

Other definitions for barrel roll (2 of 2)

[ bar-uhl-rohl ]
/ ˈbær əlˌroʊl /

verb (used without object) Aeronautics.
to perform a barrel roll.

Origin of barrel-roll

First recorded in 1925–30
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does barrel roll mean?

A barrel roll is an aviation maneuver in which an aircraft rolls over while also flying in a spiral or corkscrew route.

The term can also be used as a verb (typically spelled barrel-roll) meaning to perform this maneuver.

A barrel roll is typically only done by fighter jets and stunt planes. Some helicopters are capable of barrel roles, but this is rarer.

A barrel roll should not be confused with an aileron roll, in which an aircraft performs a side-to-side roll by turning upside down and then right-side up again in a single rolling motion (without flying in a corkscrew formation). However, most laypeople simply call this a barrel roll.

Example: The best part of the air show was seeing that huge plane do a barrel roll.

Where does barrel roll come from?

The first records of the term barrel roll as a name for an airplane maneuver come from around the early 1900s. The name of the move is likely based on the fact that the plane rolls in a way that’s somewhat similar to how a barrel would roll when on its side.

Barrel rolls aren’t an everyday flight maneuver. They’re typically done as a trick or as an evasive maneuver in combat, such as to avoid incoming fire. Top gun moves like these are common in movies and video games, in which they’re done with planes, helicopters, and fictional vehicles like spaceships.

The name of the barrel roll move was especially established in pop culture thanks to the 1997 video game Star Fox 64, in which the character Peppy Hare repeatedly (and unhelpfully) suggests that the player do a barrel roll as an evasive maneuver.

However, the move done in this game is actually an aileron roll, and people who are not familiar with aviation often mistakenly call aileron rolls barrel rolls. A barrel roll should also not be confused with a loop-the-loop, in which the plane flies upward in a curving motion to make a vertical loop.

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What are some other forms related to barrel roll?

  • barrel-roll (verb)

What are some words that share a root or word element with barrel roll

What are some words that often get used in discussing barrel roll?

What are some words barrel roll may be commonly confused with?

How is barrel roll used in real life?

What most people call a barrel roll is technically an aileron roll, but the term is now  often used to describe any kind of roll done by an aircraft or other vehicle.



Try using barrel roll!

Which of the following commands is Peppy Hare likely to give you when an evasive maneuver is needed?

A. Do a barrel roll!
B. Do a barrel roll!
C. Do a barrel roll!
D. Do a barrel roll!

How to use barrel roll in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for barrel roll

barrel roll

a flight manoeuvre in which an aircraft rolls about its longitudinal axis while following a spiral course in line with the direction of flight
verb barrel-roll
(intr) (of an aircraft) to perform a barrel roll
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