\ 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 Deported during the Red Scare after World War I, the Haymarket Martyrs were her role models. Ron Grossman, Chicago Tribune, 13 May 2022 Precedent plays an important role in promoting stability and evenhandedness. Grayson Quay, The Week, 13 May 2022 The Federal Reserve, which formulates U.S. monetary policy, plays a key role in setting interest rates. Kathryn Watson, CBS News, 13 May 2022 Rebuilding a team goes beyond filling roster spots, well past finding right-handed-shooting defensemen to pair with left-handed shooters and acquiring role players who fit in alongside the franchise’s foundations. Los Angeles Times, 12 May 2022 The model for Evolve is similar to businesses set up by several of Osaka’s role models in the sports industry, many of whom have become close friends, including LeBron James and Stephen Curry. New York Times, 11 May 2022 Barkley said the Bucks need more contributions from other role players. Christopher Kuhagen, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 11 May 2022 The members of Rolling Stone Culture Council have each had their own role models and mentors throughout their business journeys. Rolling Stone Culture Council, Rolling Stone, 10 May 2022 Our mothers are our role models for how to be a woman. Kirsten Powers, CNN, 7 May 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

15 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Role.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 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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