on a roll,
    1. (in a gambling game) having a continuing winning streak.
    2. enjoying continuing good luck or success: She's been on a roll since taking that course on sales techniques.
    roll in the hay, Slang. an instance of sexual intercourse.
    roll one's eyes, to turn one's eyes around in different directions or in a circle, especially as an expression of disbelief, annoyance, or impatience: He rolled his eyes when he heard the stupid joke.
    roll with the punches. punch1(def 16).
    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

1175–1225; (noun) (in senses referring to rolled or round objects) Middle English: scroll, inscribed scroll, register, cylindrical object < Old French ro(u)lle < Latin rotulus, rotula small wheel, diminutive of rota wheel (see rotate1, -ule); (in senses referring to motion) derivative of the v.; (v.) Middle English rollen < Old French rol(l)er < Vulgar Latin *rotulare, derivative of Latin rotulus, rotula
Related formsroll·a·ble, adjectivere·roll, verbun·roll·a·ble, adjectivewell-rolled, adjective
Can be confusedrole roll

Synonyms for roll

1. revolve, rotate. 3. wave, undulate. 4. undulate. 12. swing, tilt. 40. See list1. 47. spindle. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for roll

Contemporary Examples of roll

Historical Examples of roll

British Dictionary definitions for roll



to move or cause to move along by turning over and over
to move or cause to move along on wheels or rollers
to flow or cause to flow onwards in an undulating movementbillows of smoke rolled over the ground
(intr) (of animals, etc) to turn onto the back and kickthe hills roll down to the sea
(intr) to extend in undulationsthe hills roll down to the sea
(intr usually foll by around) to move or occur in cycles
(intr) (of a planet, the moon, etc) to revolve in an orbit
(intr ; foll by on, by, etc) to pass or elapsethe years roll by
to rotate or cause to rotate wholly or partiallyto roll one's eyes
to curl, cause to curl, or admit of being curled, so as to form a ball, tube, or cylinder; coil
to make or form by shaping into a ball, tube, or cylinderto roll a cigarette
(often foll by out) to spread or cause to spread out flat or smooth under or as if under a rollerto roll the lawn; to roll pastry
to emit, produce, or utter with a deep prolonged reverberating soundthe thunder rolled continuously
to trill or cause to be trilledto roll one's r's
(intr) (of a vessel, aircraft, rocket, etc) to turn from side to side around the longitudinal axisCompare pitch 1 (def. 11), yaw (def. 1)
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)
(intr) to walk with a swaying gait, as when drunk; sway
(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
(intr) to wallow or envelop oneself (in)
(tr) to apply ink to (type, etc) with a roller or rollers
to throw (dice)
(intr) to operate or begin to operatethe presses rolled
(intr) informal to make progress; move or go aheadlet the good times roll
(tr) informal, mainly US and NZ to rob (a helpless person, such as someone drunk or asleep)
(tr) slang to have sexual intercourse or foreplay with (a person)
start the ball rolling or set the ball rolling to open or initiate (an action, discussion, movement, etc)


the act or an instance of rolling
anything rolled up in a cylindrical forma roll of newspaper
an official list or register, esp of namesan electoral roll
a rounded massrolls of flesh
a strip of material, esp leather, fitted with pockets or pouches for holding tools, toilet articles, needles and thread, etc
a cylinder used to flatten something; roller
a small loaf of bread for one person: eaten plain, with butter, or as a light meal when filled with meat, cheese, etc
a flat pastry or cake rolled up with a meat (sausage roll), jam (jam roll), or other fillingSee also swiss roll
a swell, ripple, or undulation on a surfacethe roll of the hills
a swaying, rolling, or unsteady movement or gait
a deep prolonged reverberating soundthe roll of thunder
a rhythmic cadenced flow of words
a trilling sound; trill
a very rapid beating of the sticks on a drum
a flight manoeuvre in which an aircraft makes one complete rotation about its longitudinal axis without loss of height or change in direction
the angular displacement of a vessel, rocket, missile, etc, caused by rolling
a throw of dice
a bookbinder's tool having a brass wheel, used to impress a line or repeated pattern on the cover of a book
slang an act of sexual intercourse or petting (esp in the phrase a roll in the hay)
US slang an amount of money, esp a wad of paper money
on a roll slang experiencing continued good luck or success
strike off the roll or strike off the rolls
  1. to expel from membership
  2. to debar (a solicitor) from practising, usually because of dishonesty

Word Origin for 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

Word Origin and History for roll

early 13c., "rolled-up piece of parchment or paper" (especially one inscribed with an official record), from Old French rolle "document, parchment scroll, decree" (12c.), from Medieval Latin rotulus "a roll of paper" (source also of Spanish rollo, Italian ruollo), from Latin rotula "small wheel," diminutive of rota "wheel" (see rotary).

Meaning "a register, list, catalogue" is from late 14c., common from c.1800. Meaning "dough which is rolled before baking" is first recorded mid-15c. Sense of "act of rolling" is from 1743. Meaning "quantity of material rolled up" is from late 14c.; meaning "quantity of paper money" is from 1846; sense of "quantity of (rolled) film" is from 1890. Meaning "act of sexual intercourse" is attested from 1942 (roll in the hay), from roll (v.). Dutch rol, German Rolle, Danish rulle, etc. are from French.


c.1300 "turn over and over, move by rotating" (intransitive); late 14c. as "to move (something) by turning it over and over;" from Old French roeller "roll, wheel round" (Modern French rouler), from Medieval Latin rotulare, from Latin rotula, diminutive of rota "wheel" (see rotary). Related: Rolled; rolling.

Of sounds (e.g. thunder) somehow suggestive of a rolling ball, 1590s; of a drum from 1680s. Of eyes, from late 14c. Of a movie camera, "to start filming," from 1938. Sense of "rob a stuporous drunk" is from 1873, from the action required to get to his pockets. To roll up "gather, congregate" is from 1861, originally Australian. To be on a roll is from 1976. To roll with the punches is a metaphor from boxing (1940). Heads will roll is a Hitlerism:

If our movement is victorious there will be a revolutionary tribunal which will punish the crimes of November 1918. Then decapitated heads will roll in the sand. [1930]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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.