role

noun
\ ˈrōl \
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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The majority of online commenters argued that the role should have gone to a trans performer. Mia Galuppo, The Hollywood Reporter, "Scarlett Johansson Drops Out of 'Rub & Tug' Trans Film Following Backlash," 13 July 2018 Linebackers Krys Barnes and Keisean Lucifer-South will step into more attacking roles on the unit. Matt Murschel, OrlandoSentinel.com, "New coach Chip Kelly’s UCLA Bruins are No. 45 in 2018 preseason college football rankings," 13 July 2018 Literature has proven a fertile source of complex female roles since the dawn of cinema, with Little Women generating its first feature moving picture adaptation in 1917. Marley Marius, Vogue, "8 Stirring Tales of Sisterhood Adapted From the Page to the Silver Screen (That Aren’t Greta Gerwig’s Little Women)," 13 July 2018 Others say the best actor should be chosen for the role no matter the gender identity. Amanda Svachula, New York Times, "Scarlett Johansson Withdraws From Transgender Role After Backlash," 13 July 2018 But today, despite the show of strength that Camp Humphreys represents, there is uncertainty over the role the U.S. military will play in South Korea’s future. Time, "Inside Camp Humphreys, South Korea: America's Largest Overseas Military Base," 13 July 2018 In the film, Joaquin Phoenix plays Callahan (though originally, Robin Williams was slated to fill the role). refinery29.com, "How John Callahan Used His Disability To Fuel Fearlessly Funny Cartoons," 13 July 2018 Expect a sea change in the Latin music business as women both on and offstage assume leadership roles and fight back against an industry that is legendary for sexism. Jessica Lipsky, Billboard, "Latin Women Take The Reins: Insights From the Latin Alternative Music Conference," 13 July 2018 Filmmaker Jen Richards has become a prominent voice against casting cis actors in trans roles. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Scarlett Johansson won’t play a trans man after all.," 13 July 2018

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.

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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

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Dictionary Entries near role

roky

rolamite

Roland

role

role model

roleo

role-play

Statistics for role

Last Updated

10 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for role

The first known use of role was in 1605

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More Definitions for role

role

noun

English Language Learners Definition of role

: the character played by an actor

: a part that someone or something has in a particular activity or situation

: the part that someone has in a family, society, or other group

role

noun
\ ˈrōl \

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

role

noun
variants: also rôle \ˈrōl \

Medical Definition of role 

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

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Comments on role

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