role and roll - the difference

by Craig Shrives
The Quick Answer
A role is an actor's portrayal of a character or a job or function

A roll is a list (usually of names) or a piece of bread.

To roll usually means to gather by rolling or to move by rotating.

Role and Roll

Writers often confuse the words role and roll.


The noun role means an actor's portrayal of a character or a job or function (of a person or thing).

  • Teddy was totally convincing in the role of Shylock.
  • What's your role onboard this aircraft?
  • The thermostat's role is to keep the temperature below 200 degrees so the casing does not melt.


The word roll has several meanings:

To move by rotating or gather by rolling.
  • Roll the hay bale down the hill.
  • Roll over a bit. You're hogging the bed.
  • Roll your sleeves up and roll me the best cigar ever.
To move on wheels.
  • The skateboarders rolled past the park attendant, and he did not say a word.
A list.
  • Please check the nominal roll to ensure we're all present.
To start.
  • Roll the cameras.
  • Roll the credits. 
A small round piece of bread (i.e., a bread roll).
  • Would you like butter on your roll?
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose?
What are nouns? What are verbs? List of easily confused words