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roll (rōl)
v. rolled, roll·ing, rolls
1. To move forward along a surface by revolving on an axis or by repeatedly turning over.
2. To travel or be moved on wheels or rollers: rolled down the sidewalk on their scooters.
3. To travel around; wander: roll from town to town.
a. To travel or be carried in a vehicle.
b. To be carried on a stream: The logs rolled down the cascading river.
a. To start to move or operate: The press wouldn't roll.
b. To work or succeed in a sustained way; gain momentum: The political campaign finally began to roll.
6. To go by; elapse: The days rolled along.
7. To recur. Often used with around: Summer has rolled around again.
8. To move in a periodic revolution, as a planet in its orbit.
9. To turn over and over: The puppy rolled in the mud.
10. To shift the gaze usually quickly and continually: The child's eyes rolled with fright.
11. To turn around or revolve on an axis.
12. To move or advance with a rising and falling motion; undulate: The waves rolled toward shore.
13. To extend or appear to extend in gentle rises and falls: The dunes roll to the sea.
14. To move or rock from side to side: The ship pitched and rolled in heavy seas.
15. To walk with a swaying, unsteady motion.
16. Slang To experience periodic rushes after taking an intoxicating drug, especially MDMA.
17. To take the shape of a ball or cylinder: Yarn rolls easily.
18. To become flattened by pressure applied by a roller.
19. To make a deep, prolonged, surging sound: Thunder rolled in the distance.
20. To make a sustained trilling sound, as certain birds do.
21. To beat a drum in a continuous series of short blows.
22. To pour, flow, or move in a continual stream: tourists rolling into the city.
23. To enjoy ample amounts: rolled in the money.
1. To cause to move forward along a surface by revolving on an axis or by repeatedly turning over.
2. To move or push along on wheels or rollers: rolled the plane out of the hangar.
3. To impel or send onward in a steady, swelling motion: The sea rolls its waves onto the sand.
4. To impart a swaying, rocking motion to: Heavy seas rolled the ship.
5. To turn around or partly turn around; rotate: rolled his head toward the door.
6. To cause to begin moving or operating: roll the cameras; roll the presses.
7. To extend or lay out: rolled out a long rope.
8. To pronounce or utter with a trill: You must roll your r's in Spanish.
9. To utter or emit in full, swelling tones.
10. To beat (a drum) with a continuous series of short blows.
11. To wrap (something) round and round upon itself or around something else. Often used with up: roll up a poster.
a. To envelop or enfold in a covering: roll dirty laundry in a sheet.
b. To make by shaping into a ball or cylinder: roll a cigarette.
13. To spread, compress, or flatten by applying pressure with a roller: roll pastry dough.
14. Printing To apply ink to (type) with a roller or rollers.
15. Games To throw (dice), as in craps.
16. Slang To rob (a drunken, sleeping, or otherwise helpless person).
1. The act or an instance of rolling.
2. Something rolled up: a roll of tape.
3. A quantity, as of cloth or wallpaper, rolled into a cylinder and often considered as a unit of measure.
4. A piece of parchment or paper that may be or is rolled up; a scroll.
5. A register or a catalogue.
6. A list of names of persons belonging to a group.
7. A mass in cylindrical or rounded form: a roll of tobacco.
a. A small loaf of bread, portioned for one individual and often served as a side dish or appetizer or used to make a sandwich.
b. A portion of food wrapped around a filling: cinnamon roll; sushi roll.
9. A rolling, swaying, or rocking motion.
10. A gentle swell or undulation of a surface: the roll of the plains.
11. A deep reverberation or rumble: the roll of thunder.
12. A rapid succession of short sounds: the roll of a drum.
13. A trill: the roll of his r's.
14. A resonant, rhythmical flow of words.
15. A roller, especially a cylinder on which to roll something up or with which to flatten something.
a. An amount of rotation around a longitudinal axis, as of an aircraft or boat.
b. A maneuver in which an airplane makes a single complete rotation about its longitudinal axis without changing direction or losing altitude.
17. Slang Money, especially a wad of paper money.
Phrasal Verbs:
roll back
1. To reduce (prices or wages, for example) to a previous lower level.
2. To cause to turn back or retreat.
roll out
1. To get out of bed.
2. To initiate or produce for the first time; introduce: roll out a new product line.
3. Football To execute a rollout.
roll over
1. To defer or postpone payment of (an obligation).
2. To renegotiate the terms of (a financial deal).
3. To reinvest (funds from a maturing security or from a tax-deferred account) into a similar security or account.
roll up
1. To arrive in a vehicle.
2. To accumulate; amass: rolled up quite a fortune.
3. To destroy or eliminate by military action: "Give him some infantry and he would roll up the enemy flank" (Brooks D. Simpson).
on a roll Informal
Undergoing or experiencing sustained, even increasing good fortune or success: "The stock market's on a roll" (Karen Pennar).
roll in the hay Slang
Sexual intercourse.
roll the bones Games
To cast dice, especially in craps.
roll with the punches Slang
To cope with and withstand adversity, especially by being flexible.

[Middle English rollen, from Old French roler, from Vulgar Latin *rotulāre, from Latin rotula, diminutive of rota, wheel; see ret- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.