“Role vs “Roll”: Main Differences & How to Use Both Correctly as a Writer

Did you know that role and roll are homophone homonyms which are words that sound the same?

Role is a character played by an actor.  It can also mean a function or position in an activity or situation. On the other hand, roll has a meaning that points to a round or cylindrical shape. Roll also means moving by revolving around a shape. This meaning is used in the idiom on a roll, meaning experiencing a string of success.

Both roll and role function as nouns. In addition to functioning as a noun, rolls can function as a verb.

Role has a special use as a verb in computer technology.

How to Use Role vs Roll

How to use Role

According to the dictionary, role has the following meanings a character assigned or assumed, a socially expected behavior pattern usually determined by an individual’s status in a particular society, a part played by an actor or singer, and a function or part performed especially in an operation or process.

Role as a noun

These are the most common meanings;

See also: “Homophone” vs “Homonym”: Main Differences & How to Use Both Correctly as a Writer

A character or part that an actor plays in a film, TV shows, or stage plays.


  • The actress got the role she auditioned for.
  • You should memorize each line of the script in your role.

The expected behavior or place of a person or a group of people in an institution or society.


  • I do not like the idea of gender roles in relationship
  • The role of a pet has changed from a working animal or guard to a family member.

A function or purpose for something or someone.


  • The organization sent my job description so I can understand my employment role.
  •  How important is the role of technology play in our day-to-day lives?

How to use Roll

These are the most common definitions of roll.

Roll (verb)

To move something or make something move by making it revolve or turn over and over.


  • I will roll the ball on the floor before kicking it.
  • The wheels were really rolling on the cart when the horse pulled it quickly.

To turn something over and over and turn it into a sphere shape or to wrap something


  • She rolled three snowballs into a snowchild.
  • I wonder how factories roll tissue paper rolls.

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To throw a dice.


  • She rolled a lucky 7 and won a lot of money.
  • Rolling dice is one of my favorite games.

Roll (noun)

Something that’s been rolled.


  • I have lost so much weight; I have lost those cheeky fat rolls.
  • What was the result of the roll of your dice?

A written document, a list of names, addresses, registrants, etc.


As a teacher, I check my row every morning to check the students who are present.

Did you make sure you were on the voter roll?

A measurement of cloth, certain kinds of paper, tobacco.


  • How many rolls of fabric should I buy for that ball gown I want to make?
  • I forgot to buy more rolls of towels needed for the decoration.

A list

For example:

The nominal roll is a list that contains the names and salaries of workers in my establishment.

To start


  • Roll the cameras.
  • Roll the credits.

See also: “Alot” vs “A lot”: Main Differences & How to Use Both Correctly as a Writer

Examples of Role vs Roll

  • Mr. Kay, Call the roll.
  • Teddy was totally convincing in the role of Shylock.
  • What’s your role in this organization?
  • The thermostat’s role is to keep the temperature below so the casing does not melt.
  • Please check the nominal roll to ensure all the workers are present.

Key Differences in Usage in Role vs roll

Role and roll are homophones and it is easy to confuse them.

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. They are not interchangeable, as their meanings are not the same in any context.

Tips to Avoid Confusion

A simple trick to remember the difference between role and roll is to associate role with actor or part and think of roll when suggesting movement which works with words like round or rotate.

Try substituting role with “part” or “position” and roll with “turn” or “list”.

Using Role And Roll In The Same Sentence

In this section, you will understand the roles of these two words and how to roll them into one sentence. Let’s go!

  • The prince didn’t want to play the role of spoilt brat so he rolled up to events driving his own car.
  • In his role as the family baker, the chef made delicious cinnamon rolls.
  • The role of the class teacher includes roll call.

Idioms with Roll

As we mentioned earlier, the idiom roll the bones means playing a dice game known as craps.

 Roll the dice means to assume a risk by taking action.

Also, roll with the punches means to adjust to things as they happen.

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Expressions of Role and Roll

Is the correct expression ‘let’s roll’ or ‘let’s role’?

The right expression is ‘let’s roll’.

Is it ‘on a roll’ or ‘on a role’?

The correct phrase is ‘on a roll’.

Is the expression ‘roll of the dice’ or ‘role of the dice’?

The correct phrase is ‘roll of the dice’.

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 expression is ‘play an important role’.

What’s the correct phrase ‘the role of the’ or ‘the roll of the’?

You should use ‘the role of the’.

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 correct expression is ‘played an important role’.

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

The right phrase is ‘plays an important role’.

Synonyms of Roll vs Role

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

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


Both are used as nouns, but roll can also be used as a verb.

Role has to do with someone’s place, behavior, function, in a character, society, or part in a play, movie. It also means something’s purpose or function.

Most of the meanings of roll deals with something being moved in a circular manner or sphere.