[ rohl ]
See synonyms for: rollrolledrolling on

verb (used without object)
  1. to move along a surface by revolving or turning over and over, as a ball or a wheel.

  2. to move or be moved on wheels, as a vehicle or its occupants.

  1. to flow or advance in a stream or with an undulating motion, as water, waves, or smoke.

  2. to extend in undulations, as land.

  3. to elapse, pass, or move, as time (often followed by on, away, or by).

  4. to move as in a cycle (usually followed by around or round): as soon as summer rolls around again.

  5. to perform a periodical revolution in an orbit, as a heavenly body.

  6. to emit or have a deep, prolonged sound, as thunder, drums, etc.

  7. to trill, as a bird.

  8. to revolve or turn over, once or repeatedly, as a wheel on an axis or a person or animal lying down.

  9. to turn around in different directions or in a circle, as the eyes in their sockets.

  10. (of a vessel)

  11. to walk with a swinging or swaying gait.

  12. Informal. to begin to move or operate; start; commence: Let's roll at sunrise.

  13. Informal. to go forward or advance without restrictions or impediments: The economy is finally beginning to roll.

  14. to curl up so as to form a tube or cylinder.

  15. to admit of being formed into a tube or cylinder by curling up.

  16. to be spread out after being curled up (usually followed by out).

  17. to spread out as under a roller: The paint rolls easily.

  18. Aviation. (of an aircraft or rocket) to deviate from a stable flight attitude by rotation about its longitudinal axis.

verb (used with object)
  1. to cause to move along a surface by revolving or turning over and over, as a cask, a ball, or a hoop.

  2. to move along on wheels or rollers; convey in a wheeled vehicle.

  1. to drive, impel, or cause to flow onward with a sweeping or undulating motion: The wind rolled the waves high on the beach.

  2. to utter or give forth with a full, flowing, continuous sound: rolling his orotund phrases.

  3. to trill: I have trouble rolling my R’s in Spanish.

  4. to cause to revolve or turn over or over and over: to roll oneself onto one's front.

  5. to cause to sway or rock from side to side, as a ship.

  6. to wrap (something) around an axis, around upon itself, or into a cylindrical shape, ball, or the like: to roll string.

  7. to make by forming a tube or cylinder: to roll a cigarette.

  8. to spread out flat (something curled up) (often followed by out): He rolled the map out on the table.

  9. to wrap, enfold, or envelop, as in some covering: to roll a child in a blanket.

  10. to spread out, level, smooth, compact, or the like, as with a rolling pin, roller, the hands, etc.: to roll dough;to roll a tennis court.

  11. to form (metal) in a rolling mill.

  12. to tumble (metal pieces and abrasives) in a box or barrel in such a way that their relative positions remain the same.

  13. to beat (a drum) with rapid, continuous strokes.

    • to cast or throw (a die or dice).

    • to obtain (a specified number of pips) when casting a die or dice: If you roll two sixes, you get an extra turn.

  14. Printing. to apply (ink) with a roller or series of rollers.

  15. Slang.

    • to rob (a sleeping or drunk victim), especially by going through the person’s pockets to find money: Bar staff had been rolling the tourists before sending them back to their hotels in taxis, and their victims never remembered a thing when they woke up.

    • to mug by beating the victim unconscious and then stealing from that person: When we ran out of money, we rolled our dealer and took his stash.

    • to beat up: New gang members were rolled as part of their initiation.

  16. Slang. to defeat (an adversary) soundly: The home team rolled the visiting team and ran up the score in the final minutes of the game.

  17. Slang. to deceive or manipulate (a decision-maker or influencer) in order to get one’s way or advance one’s agenda: The inexperienced new chairman was rolled by executives who never supported the company’s rebranding efforts.

  1. a document of paper, parchment, or the like, that is or may be rolled up, as for storing; scroll.

  2. a list, register, or catalog, especially one containing the names of the persons belonging to a company, class, society, etc.

  1. anything rolled up in a ringlike or cylindrical form: a roll of wire.

  2. a number of papers or other items rolled up together.

  3. a length of cloth, wallpaper, or the like, rolled up in cylindrical form (often forming a definite measure).

  4. a cylindrical or rounded mass of something: rolls of fat.

  5. some article of cylindrical or rounded form, as a molding.

  6. a cylindrical piece upon which something is rolled along to facilitate moving.

  7. a cylinder serving as a core upon which something is rolled up.

  8. a roller with which something is spread out, leveled, crushed, smoothed, compacted, or the like.

  9. Cooking.

    • a small cake of bread, originally and still often rolled or doubled on itself before baking: a dinner roll with butter.

    • thin cake spread with jelly or the like and rolled up: cinnamon rolls.

    • meat rolled up and cooked: cabbage rolls with ground beef and rice.

    • a kind of sushi, shaped into a cone, or into a cylinder that is sliced into bite-size pieces: We ordered some sashimi and a few rolls.

  10. the act or process or an instance of rolling.

  11. undulation, as of a surface: the roll of a prairie.

  12. a sonorous or rhythmical flow of words.

  13. a deep, prolonged sound, as of thunder: the deep roll of a breaking wave.

  14. the trill of certain birds, especially of the roller canary.

  15. the continuous sound of a drum rapidly beaten.

  16. a rolling motion, as of a ship.

  17. a rolling or swaying gait.

  18. Aerospace.

    • a single, complete rotation of an airplane about the axis of the fuselage with little loss of altitude or change of direction.

    • (of an aircraft or rocket) the act of rolling.

    • the angular displacement caused by rolling.

  19. Informal.

    • paper currency carried folded or rolled up: He took out an impressive roll and paid the check with a $100 bill.

    • bankroll; funds: People were encouraged to shoot their rolls on mining speculation.

  20. (in various dice games)

    • a single cast of or turn at casting the dice.

    • the total number of pips or points made by a single cast; score or point.

Verb Phrases
  1. roll back,

    • to reduce (the price of a commodity, wages, etc.) to a former level, usually in response to government action.

    • to restore to a previous state: The help desk suggested rolling back my computer’s operating system to eliminate the update that was causing the crashes.The laissez-faire policy would roll back some environmental regulations.

    • to cause (an enemy) to retreat or withdraw.

  2. roll in, Informal.

    • to arrive, especially in large numbers or quantity: When do my dividends start rolling in?

    • to go to bed; retire: They would roll in later and later every night.

    • to mix and average the cost of (a higher-priced commodity or item) with that of a cheaper one so as to increase the retail price.

    • to add: Labor wants to roll in periodic increases with their wage demands.

  1. roll out,

    • to spread out or flatten: to roll out dough.

    • Informal. to arise from bed; get up: It was nearly impossible to roll out on the first day back after vacation.

    • Football. to execute a rollout.

    • Informal. to introduce; unveil: a TV advertising campaign to roll out the new car.

  2. roll over,

    • Personal Finance, Business. to reinvest funds, especially a tax-free transfer of assets from one retirement plan to another.

    • to overturn: The truck rolled over, and the driver hung by her seatbelt.

    • to turn over: I rolled over in my sleep and nearly fell out of bed.

  3. roll up,

    • to accumulate; collect: to roll up a large vote.

    • to increase.

    • to arrive in a conveyance: He rolled up to the front door in a chauffeur-driven limousine.

Idioms about roll

  1. on a roll,

    • (in a gambling game) having a continuing winning streak.

    • enjoying continuing good luck or success: She's been on a roll since taking that course on sales techniques.

  2. roll in the hay, Slang. an instance of sexual intercourse.

  1. roll one's eyes, to turn one's eyes upward or around in a circle, especially as an expression of disbelief, annoyance, impatience, or disdain: He rolled his eyes when he heard the stupid joke.

  2. roll with the punches, Informal. punch1 (def. 16).

  3. strike off / from the rolls, to remove from membership or practice, as to disbar: He will surely be struck off the rolls if this conduct continues.

Origin of roll

First recorded in 1175–1225; Middle English noun (in senses referring to rolled or round objects): “scroll, inscribed scroll, register, cylindrical object,” from Old French ro(u)lle, from Latin rotulus, rotula “small wheel,” diminutive of rota “wheel”; (in senses referring to motion) derivative of the verb; Middle English verb rollen, from Old French rol(l)er, from assumed Vulgar Latin rotulāre, derivative of Latin rotulus, rotula; see origin at rotate1, see -ule

synonym study For roll

42. See list1.

Other words for roll

Other words from roll

  • roll·a·ble, adjective
  • re·roll, verb
  • un·roll·a·ble, adjective
  • well-rolled, adjective

Words that may be confused with roll

Words Nearby roll Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use roll in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for roll


/ (rəʊl) /

  1. to move or cause to move along by turning over and over

  2. to move or cause to move along on wheels or rollers

  1. to flow or cause to flow onwards in an undulating movement: billows of smoke rolled over the ground

  2. (intr) (of animals, etc) to turn onto the back and kick: the hills roll down to the sea

  3. (intr) to extend in undulations: the hills roll down to the sea

  4. (intr usually foll by around) to move or occur in cycles

  5. (intr) (of a planet, the moon, etc) to revolve in an orbit

  6. (intr ; foll by on, by, etc) to pass or elapse: the years roll by

  7. to rotate or cause to rotate wholly or partially: to roll one's eyes

  8. to curl, cause to curl, or admit of being curled, so as to form a ball, tube, or cylinder; coil

  9. to make or form by shaping into a ball, tube, or cylinder: to roll a cigarette

  10. (often foll by out) to spread or cause to spread out flat or smooth under or as if under a roller: to roll the lawn; to roll pastry

  11. to emit, produce, or utter with a deep prolonged reverberating sound: the thunder rolled continuously

  12. to trill or cause to be trilled: to roll one's r's

  13. (intr) (of a vessel, aircraft, rocket, etc) to turn from side to side around the longitudinal axis: Compare pitch 1 (def. 11), yaw (def. 1)

  14. to cause (an aircraft) to execute a roll or (of an aircraft) to execute a roll (sense 40): (of an aircraft) to execute or cause an aircraft to execute a roll (def. 41)

  15. (intr) to walk with a swaying gait, as when drunk; sway

  16. (intr often foll by over) (of an animal, esp a dog) to lie on its back and wriggle while kicking its legs in the air, without moving along

  17. (intr) to wallow or envelop oneself (in)

  18. (tr) to apply ink to (type, etc) with a roller or rollers

  19. to throw (dice)

  20. (intr) to operate or begin to operate: the presses rolled

  21. (intr) informal to make progress; move or go ahead: let the good times roll

  22. (tr) informal, mainly US and NZ to rob (a helpless person, such as someone drunk or asleep)

  23. (tr) slang to have sexual intercourse or foreplay with (a person)

  24. start the ball rolling or set the ball rolling to open or initiate (an action, discussion, movement, etc)

  1. the act or an instance of rolling

  2. anything rolled up in a cylindrical form: a roll of newspaper

  1. an official list or register, esp of names: an electoral roll

  2. a rounded mass: rolls of flesh

  3. a strip of material, esp leather, fitted with pockets or pouches for holding tools, toilet articles, needles and thread, etc

  4. a cylinder used to flatten something; roller

  5. a small loaf of bread for one person: eaten plain, with butter, or as a light meal when filled with meat, cheese, etc

  6. a flat pastry or cake rolled up with a meat (sausage roll), jam (jam roll), or other filling: See also swiss roll

  7. a swell, ripple, or undulation on a surface: the roll of the hills

  8. a swaying, rolling, or unsteady movement or gait

  9. a deep prolonged reverberating sound: the roll of thunder

  10. a rhythmic cadenced flow of words

  11. a trilling sound; trill

  12. a very rapid beating of the sticks on a drum

  13. a flight manoeuvre in which an aircraft makes one complete rotation about its longitudinal axis without loss of height or change in direction

  14. the angular displacement of a vessel, rocket, missile, etc, caused by rolling

  15. a throw of dice

  16. a bookbinder's tool having a brass wheel, used to impress a line or repeated pattern on the cover of a book

  17. slang an act of sexual intercourse or petting (esp in the phrase a roll in the hay)

  18. US slang an amount of money, esp a wad of paper money

  19. on a roll slang experiencing continued good luck or success

  20. strike off the roll or strike off the rolls

    • to expel from membership

    • to debar (a solicitor) from practising, usually because of dishonesty

Origin of roll

C14 rollen, from Old French roler, from Latin rotulus a little wheel, from rota a wheel

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with roll


In addition to the idioms beginning with roll

  • roll around
  • roll back
  • roll in
  • rolling stone
  • roll in the aisles
  • roll in the hay
  • roll out
  • roll over
  • roll the bones
  • roll up
  • roll up one's sleeves
  • roll with the punches

also see:

  • easy as pie (rolling off a log)
  • get rolling
  • get the ball rolling
  • heads will roll
  • on a roll
  • red carpet

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.