[ roh-lee-poh-lee, -poh-lee ]
See synonyms for roly-poly on
  1. short and plumply round, as a person or a young animal.

noun,plural ro·ly-po·lies.
  1. a roly-poly person or thing.

  2. Chiefly British. a sheet of biscuit dough spread with jam, fruit, or the like, rolled up and steamed or baked.

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

Other words for roly-poly

Opposites for roly-poly

Words Nearby roly-poly Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use roly-poly in a sentence

  • No one ever forgot the roly-poly pudding made without suet; synthetic rubber was its scientific name.

    The Home of the Blizzard | Douglas Mawson
  • In the shape of pigs—fat, roly-poly and cute—they scampered off a little distance and sat down to think about their new condition.

  • He was a roly-poly little man; over seventy now but still healthy-looking, with an apple-cheeked, sunburned face.

    Gone Fishing | James H. Schmitz
  • Roast stuffed duckling with baked potatoes, string beans and brussels sprouts, jam roly-poly and coffee!

    The Viking Blood | Frederick William Wallace
  • "Her folks are going to travel this summer so we can't have our little roly-poly Madaline with us," she explained.

British Dictionary definitions for roly-poly


/ (ˈrəʊlɪˈpəʊlɪ) /

  1. plump, buxom, or rotund

nounplural -lies
  1. British a strip of suet pastry spread with jam, fruit, or a savoury mixture, rolled up, and baked or steamed as a pudding

  2. a plump, buxom, or rotund person

  1. Australian an informal name for tumbleweed

Origin of 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