[ roh-lee-poh-lee, -poh-lee ]
/ ˈroʊ liˈpoʊ li, -ˌpoʊ li /


short and plumply round, as a person or a young animal.

noun, plural ro·ly-po·lies.

a roly-poly person or thing.
Chiefly British. a sheet of biscuit dough spread with jam, fruit, or the like, rolled up and steamed or baked.

Nearby words

  1. rollout,
  2. rollover,
  3. rolls-royce,
  4. rollway,
  5. rolodex,
  6. rom,
  7. rom.,
  8. rom. cath.,
  9. rom. cath. ch.,
  10. roma

Origin of roly-poly

1595–1605; earlier rowle powle, rowly-powly worthless fellow, game involving rolling balls, rhyming compound based on roll (v.); for second element cf. poll1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for roly-poly

British Dictionary definitions for roly-poly


/ (ˈrəʊlɪˈpəʊlɪ) /


plump, buxom, or rotund

noun plural -lies

British a strip of suet pastry spread with jam, fruit, or a savoury mixture, rolled up, and baked or steamed as a pudding
a plump, buxom, or rotund person
Australian an informal name for tumbleweed

Word Origin for roly-poly

C17: apparently by reduplication from roly, from 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

Word Origin and History for roly-poly



"short and stout," 1820, probably a varied reduplication of roll (v.). As a noun, it was used as the name of various ball games from 1713, and it was used as early as 1610s in the sense of "rascal." As an appellation of a short, stout person, from 1836.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper