\ 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 In rejecting a role for federal courts in settling partisan gerrymandering lawsuits, Chief Justice John Roberts specified that challenges could go through state courts. Robert Barnes, Anchorage Daily News, 30 June 2022 Even in the best of times, one person’s ideal role might be your worst-case scenario. Aliza Knox, Forbes, 30 June 2022 Any Turner exhibition is almost inevitably a thrill ride; this one, with more than 100 paintings and drawings centered on the artist’s pivotal role as a bridge between eras, is more than most., 30 June 2022 As vice chair of the committee, Cheney has taken a lead role in the investigation. Julian Mark, Washington Post, 30 June 2022 The Trial of the Chicago 7 in 2020, as well as a lead role opposite Peter Dinklage in Joe Wright’s Cyrano last year, and as of this week, his showstopping appearance as B.B. King in Baz Luhrmann’s epic new Elvis biopic. Liam Hess, Vogue, 29 June 2022 The state regulator, because of its jurisdiction over Wall Street, often plays a role in enforcement actions and regulations that can have national and international impact. Richard Vanderford, WSJ, 29 June 2022 During the Atlantic City stop of her Roadside Bars & Pink Guitars tour, Lambert opened up to the crowd about McLoughlin's role in bringing joy back to her life. Nasha Smith,, 29 June 2022 Schools around the country are trying to staff up counselors and therapists, but experts say Alabama’s creation of a bridge role could be a model. al, 29 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

2 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Role.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jul. 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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