\ ˈrōl How to pronounce role (audio) \
variants: or less commonly rôle

Definition of role

1a(1) : a character assigned or assumed had to take on the role of both father and mother
(2) : a socially expected behavior pattern usually determined by an individual's status in a particular society
b : a part played by an actor or singer
2 : a function or part performed especially in a particular operation or process played a major role in the negotiations

Examples of role in a Sentence

He plays the role of the villain. She was given the starring role. I had a minor role in the play. After her husband left her, she had to take on the dual role of mother and father for her children. She likes to play the role of matchmaker with her friends. She challenged the traditional roles assigned to women. We'll switch roles this time, and you can wash the dishes while I dry them. It was a case of role reversal: the father stayed home with the children while the mother worked. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Griffin was sentenced to a 14-day jail term Friday for his role in the Capitol riot. Nicholas Reimann, Forbes, 18 June 2022 Ukraine is urging the United States and the European Union to slap tougher sanctions on one of Russia’s largest banks, Gazprombank, which is still able to operate freely around the world because of its central role in Moscow’s gas trade. Dan De Luce, NBC News, 18 June 2022 The Town of Jamestown has created a scholarship fund and will fly the Juneteenth flag, to recognize and begin to atone for its role in the slave trade., 17 June 2022 McCauley brings nearly two decades of B2B financial and strategic experience to his new role. Sheryl Estrada, Fortune, 17 June 2022 Committee members have said that the Justice Department must do more to hold people accountable for their role in the attack. New York Times, 17 June 2022 As Greene enters his new role, he will be joined in the outfield by Robbie Grossman in left and Victor Reyes in right. Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press, 17 June 2022 In more recent years, he was known for his starring role in 2012's Amour, opposite Emmanuelle Riva. Jen Juneau,, 17 June 2022 Starring Kristen Bell in her breakout role, Veronica Mars follows a young woman who moonlights as a private detective while going through high school and college. Milan Polk, Men's Health, 17 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'role.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of role

1605, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

History and Etymology for role

French rôle, literally, roll, from Old French rolle

Learn More About role

Dictionary Entries Near role



role model

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Statistics for role

Last Updated

20 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Role.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for role


\ ˈrōl How to pronounce role (audio) \

Kids Definition of role

1 : a character assigned or taken on Switching roles, the children cared for their mother.
2 : a part played by an actor or singer
3 : function entry 1 sense 1 Anyone who volunteers for a special role on the trip gets extra credit …— Ann M. Martin, Baby-sitters' Winter Vacation


variants: also rôle \ ˈrōl How to pronounce role (audio) \

Medical Definition of role

: a socially prescribed pattern of behavior usually determined by an individual's status in a particular society

More from Merriam-Webster on role

Nglish: Translation of role for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of role for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about role


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