The Grammar GuideSpellingWhat is the difference between 'roll' and 'role'?

What is the difference between 'roll' and 'role'?

What is the difference between 'roll' and 'role'?

The words roll and role are often confused because they sound the same. We'll help you to understand the difference.

Role means a character or part played by a performer or actor when used as a noun.

Roll means to cause to revolve by turning over and over; to move by turning on an axis; to impel forward by causing to turn over and over on a supporting surface when used as a verb.

Roll is also used as a noun. It means the act of rolling, or state of being rolled.

A good way to remember the difference is You roLL down a hiLL.

Out of the two words, 'role' is the most common. It appears about seven times more frequently than 'roll'.



It's easy to confuse homophones because they sound the same.

Role is a noun that means "a part played by an actor, a position within a group."

Roll can be used as a verb to mean "to revolve by turning over and over." It can also be a noun that means "the act of rolling" or "a type of small, yeasted bread product."

Is the correct expression 'let's roll' or 'let's role'?

The right expression is 'let's roll'. These phrases are often confused because of their similar sound.

Is the correct phrase 'on a roll' or 'on a role'?

The right phrase is 'on a roll'. These phrases are often confused because they sound similar.

Is the expression 'roll of the dice' or 'role of the dice'?

The right phrase is 'roll of the dice'. These phrases are often confused because they sound similar.

What's the right phrase 'roll with the punches' or 'role with the punches'?

The correct expression is 'roll with the punches'. These phrases are often confused because they sound the same.

Which is right 'play an important role' or 'play an important roll'?

The right phrase is 'play an important role'. These phrases are often confused because they have the same pronunciation but different meanings.

What's the correct phrase 'the role of the' or 'the roll of the'?

You should use 'the role of the'. These phrases are often confused because they have the same pronunciation but different meanings.

Which is right 'an important role in' or 'an important roll in'?

The right expression is 'an important role in'. These phrases are often confused because they are homophones.

Is the expression 'played an important role' or 'played an important roll'?

The right expression is 'played an important role'. These phrases are often confused because they have the same pronunciation but different meanings.

What's the right phrase 'plays an important role' or 'plays an important roll'?

The right phrase is 'plays an important role'. These phrases are often confused because of their similar sound.

Some synonyms of roll are: locomote, go, move, propulsion.

Some synonyms of role are: persona, characterization, theatrical role, duty, office.

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The definitions in this article were adapted from Wiktionary.

Dictionary Definition of rollDictionary Definition of role

Examples of roll in a sentence

A menacing roll of thunder filled the sky, and distant lightning flashed.
- In the night room: a novel by Peter Straub
He watched a sedan full of gawkers slowly roll by.
- The Replacement Child by Christine Barber
He released me so that I could roll over onto my back.
- Touch of Darkness by C. T. Adams; Cathy Clamp
His heart had dropped to his knees when he'd seen them roll back in her head.
- The heart of Devin MacKade by Nora Roberts
We're all warmed up and ready to roll.
- The Singing of the Dead by Dana Stabenow

Examples of role in a sentence

He was playing the lead role in Lessing's   Nathan the Wise  .
- Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel
They wanted a diminished role in the Southwest African problem.
- Final Assault by Stephen Ames Berry
He struggled to imagine what his role could possibly be in such a vast history.
- The Hound of Rowan by Henry H. Neff
My role at the firm was, in a word, that of full-time office boy.
- The Elephant vanishes by Haruki Murakami
It’s the role I’ve always been intended for.”
- Spells by Aprilynne Pike
Test yourself

Choose the missing word in each question.

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