ˈrōl-ˌplā How to pronounce role-play (audio)
variants or less commonly roleplay
role-played also roleplayed; role-playing also roleplaying; role-plays also roleplays

transitive verb

: to act out the role of
: to represent in action
students were asked to role-play the thoughts and feelings of each characterR. G. Lambert

intransitive verb

: to play a role
role-play noun
or less commonly roleplay
plural role-plays also roleplays
I practice this with student social workers through case studies and role-play. Kevin Brazant, quoted in

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web In 2019, students of color in her child’s 5th-grade class were asked to role-play various scenes from history, including slavery and drinking out of a segregated water fountain. Meg St-esprit, Good Housekeeping, 23 Feb. 2023

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

Word History

First Known Use

1949, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of role-play was in 1949

Dictionary Entries Near role-play

Cite this Entry

“Role-play.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


: to act out the role of
role-play an interviewer

Medical Definition


transitive verb

intransitive verb

: to play a role

More from Merriam-Webster on role-play

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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