- role (n.)
- "part or character one takes," c. 1600, from French rôle "part played by a person in life," literally "roll (of paper) on which an actor's part is written," from Old French rolle (see roll (n.)). Meaning "function performed characteristically by someone" is from 1875. In the social psychology sense from 1913. Role model first attested 1957.
- roleplay (n.)
- also role-play, 1958; from role (n.) + play (v.). As a verb by 1961. Related: Role-playing
- Rolex (n.)
- proprietary name of a make of watches, trademark reg. 1908 by German businessman Hans Wilsdorf, with Wilsdorf & Davis, London. Invented name. Company moved out of Britain 1912 for tax purposes and now is headquartered in Geneva.
- masc. proper name, introduced in England by the Normans, from Old Norse Hrolfr, related to Old High German Hrodulf, literally "wolf of fame" (see Rudolph). Rolfing (1972) as a deep massage technique is named for U.S. physiotherapist Ida P. Rolf (1897-1979), and first attested 1958, as Rolf Technique.
- roll (n.)
- early 13c., "rolled-up piece of parchment or paper" (especially one inscribed with an official record), from Old French rolle "document, parchment scroll, decree" (12c.), from Medieval Latin rotulus "a roll of paper" (source also of Spanish rollo, Italian rullo), from Latin rotula "small wheel," diminutive of rota "wheel" (see rotary).
Meaning "a register, list, catalogue" is from late 14c., common from c. 1800. Meaning "dough which is rolled before baking" is first recorded mid-15c. Sense of "act of rolling" is from 1743. Meaning "quantity of material rolled up" is from late 14c.; meaning "quantity of paper money" is from 1846; sense of "quantity of (rolled) film" is from 1890. Meaning "act of sexual intercourse" is attested from 1942 (compare roll in the hay), from roll (v.). Dutch rol, German Rolle, Danish rulle, etc. are from French.
- roll (v.)
- c. 1300 "turn over and over, move by rotating" (intransitive); late 14c. as "to move (something) by turning it over and over;" from Old French roeller "roll, wheel round" (Modern French rouler), from Medieval Latin rotulare, from Latin rotula, diminutive of rota "wheel" (see rotary). Related: Rolled; rolling.
Of sounds (such as thunder) somehow suggestive of a rolling ball, 1590s; of a drum from 1680s. Of eyes, from late 14c. Of a movie camera, "to start filming," from 1938. Sense of "rob a stuporous drunk" is from 1873, from the action required to get to his pockets. To roll up "gather, congregate" is from 1861, originally Australian. To be on a roll is from 1976. To roll with the punches is a metaphor from boxing (1940). Heads will roll is a Hitlerism:
If our movement is victorious there will be a revolutionary tribunal which will punish the crimes of November 1918. Then decapitated heads will roll in the sand. 
- roll call (n.)
- 1775, from roll (n.) "list of names used to determine who is present" (a sense attested from 1590s) + call (v.).
- rollback (n.)
- also roll-back, "action of rolling backward," 1937; "reduction," 1942, American English, from verbal phrase, from roll (v.) + back (adv.).
- roller (n.)
- late 13c., "thing that rolls;" early 15c., "rolling pin," agent noun from roll (v.). Meaning "hair-curler" is attested from 1795. Roller derby is from 1936 (see derby); roller hockey from 1926. Disparaging religious term holy roller is attested from 1842, American English, from the alleged rolling in the church aisles done by those in the Spirit.
- Rollerblade (n.)
- 1985, a registered proprietary name in U.S., from roller + blade (n.). As a verb by 1988. Related: Rollerblading.
- rollercoaster (n.)
- also roller-coaster, and originally roller coaster, by 1884, perhaps mid-1870s, from roller + coaster. As a verb by 1959.
- rollerskate (n.)
- also roller-skate, 1861, American English, from roller + skate (n.). The verb is from 1885. Related: Rollerskated; rollerskating.
- rollicking (adj.)
- 1811, present participle adjective from rollick "be jovial in behavior" (though this does not appear in print until 1826), which perhaps is a blend of roll (v.) and frolic (v.).
- rolling (adj.)
- 14c., past participle adjective from roll (v.). Of prairie land from 1819. From mid-15c. as a verbal noun. Rolling pin is recorded from late 15c. Rolling paper for cigarettes, etc., is from 1969. Rolling stock "wheeled vehicles on a railroad" (locomotives, carriages, etc.) is from 1853.
The rollyng stone neuer gatherth mosse. [John Heywood, "A dialogue conteinying the nomber in effect of all the proverbes in the Englishe tongue," 1546]
- rollout (n.)
- also roll-out, 1957, originally of airplanes, from verbal phrase, from roll (v.) + out (adv.). As a type of U.S. football play from 1959.
- rollover (n.)
- also roll-over "an overturning," 1945, from verbal phrase; see roll (v.) + over (adv.). Economic verbal sense of "reinvest" is from 1957.
- Rolls-Royce (n.)
- registered 1908 as trademark, named for designers C.S. Rolls (1877-1910) and Sir Henry Royce (1863-1933). Figurative use from 1916 for any product deemed to be of high quality. Shortened form Rolls first attested 1928.
- Rolodex (n.)
- 1958, said to be from rolling + index.
- roly-poly (adj.)
- "short and stout," 1820, probably a varied reduplication of roll (v.). As a noun, it was used as the name of various ball games from 1713, and it was used as early as 1610s in the sense of "rascal." As an appellation of a short, stout person, from 1836.
- "male gypsy," 1841, see Romany.
- romaine (adj.)
- type of lettuce, 1876, from French romaine (in laitue romaine, literally "Roman lettuce"), from fem. of Old French romain "Roman," from Latin Romanus (see Roman). Perhaps so called because of the lettuce's introduction into France (by Bureau de la Rivière, chamberlain of Charles V and VI) at the time of the Avignon papacy (1309-77).
- Roman (n.)
- Old English, from Latin Romanus "of Rome, Roman," from Roma "Rome" (see Rome). The adjective is c. 1300, from Old French Romain. The Old English adjective was romanisc, which yielded Middle English Romanisshe.
As a type of numeral (usually contrasted to Arabic) it is attested from 1728; as a type of lettering (based on the upright style typical of Roman inscriptions, contrasted to Gothic, or black letter, and italic) it is recorded from 1510s. Roman nose is from 1620s. Roman candle as a type of fireworks is recorded from 1834. Roman Catholic is attested from c. 1600, a conciliatory formation from the time of the Spanish Match, replacing Romanist, Romish which by that time had the taint of insult in Protestant England.
- roman (n.)
- "a novel," 1765, from French roman, from Old French romanz (see romance (n.)); roman à clef, novel in which characters represent real persons, literally "novel with a key" (French), first attested in English 1893. And, for those who can't get enough of it, roman policier "a story of police detection" (1928).
- Roman holiday (n.)
- "occasion on which entertainment or profit is derived from injury or death," 1860, originally in reference to holidays for gladiatorial combat; the expression seems to be entirely traceable to an oft-quoted passage on a dying barbarian gladiator from the fourth canto (1818) of Byron's "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage":
But where his rude hut by the Danube lay
There were his young barbarians all at play,
There was their Dacian mother. He, their sire,
Butcher'd to make a Roman holiday!
- romance (v.)
- late 14c., "recite a narrative," from Old French romancier "narrate in French; translate into French," from romanz (see romance (n.)). Later "invent fictitious stories" (1670s), then "be romantically enthusiastic" (1849); meaning "court as a lover" is from 1938, probably from romance (n.). Related: Romanced; romancing.
- romance (n.)
- c. 1300, "a story, written or recited, of the adventures of a knight, hero, etc.," often one designed principally for entertainment," from Old French romanz "verse narrative" (Modern French roman), originally an adverb, "in the vernacular language," from Vulgar Latin *romanice scribere "to write in a Romance language" (one developed from Latin instead of Frankish), from Latin Romanicus "of or in the Roman style," from Romanus "Roman" (see Roman).
The sense evolution is because medieval vernacular tales usually told chivalric adventures full of marvelous incidents and heroic deeds. In reference to literary works, often in Middle English meaning ones written in French but also applied to native compositions. Literary sense extended by 1660s to "a love story." Meaning "adventurous quality" first recorded 1801; that of "love affair" is from 1916. Romance novel attested from 1964. Compare Romance (adj.).
- Romance (adj.)
- mid-14c., "French; in the vernacular language of France" (contrasted to Latin), from Old French romanz "French; vernacular," from Late Latin Romanice, from Latin Romanicus (see Roman). Extended 1610s to other modern tongues derived from Latin (Spanish, Italian, etc.); thus "pertaining to the languages which arose out of the Latin language of the provinces of Rome." Compare romance (n.).
- romancer (n.)
- mid-14c., "chronicler writing in French," from Old French romanceour, from romanz (see romance (n.)). Later, "one inclined to romantic imagination" (the main sense 19c.); modern use for "seducer, wooer" of a romantic quality appears to be a new formation c. 1967 from romance (v.).
- Romanesque (adj.)
- 1715, originally "descended from Latin" (compare romance), later "architectural style in Europe between Roman and Gothic periods" (1819), from Roman, influenced by French romanesque, from Late Latin Romanice "in Vulgar Latin" (see romance (n.)).
- Eastern European nation, name taken officially in 1861 at the union of Wallachia and Moldavia, from Latin Romani "people from Rome," which was used to describe the descendants of colonists there from Roman times; see Roman + -ia. In early use often Rumania, or, from French, Roumania. Related: Romanian; Rumanian; Roumanian.
- Romanic (adj.)
- "pertaining to Rome or the Roman people," 1708, originally in reference to languages descended from Latin, from Latin Romanicus, from Romanus "Roman" (see Roman).
- Romanism (n.)
- "Roman Catholicism" (usually, if not always, with a disparaging savor; in some contexts suggesting political allegiance to the Vatican), 1670s, from Roman + -ism.
- strong-tasting hard cheese, 1908, from Italian, literally "Roman" (see Roman).
- word-forming element meaning "pertaining to Rome or Romans or their language," from comb. form of Latin Romanus (see Roman).
- "Rhaeto-Romanic," Latin-derived language spoken in the Grisons region of eastern Switzerland, 1660s, from Grisons Rumansch, from Late Latin Romanice "in Vulgar Latin" (see romance (n.)).
- romantic (n.)
- "an adherent of romantic virtues in literature," 1827, from romantic (adj.).
- romantic (adj.)
- 1650s, "of the nature of a literary romance," from French romantique, from Middle French romant "a romance," oblique case of Old French romanz "verse narrative" (see romance (n.)).
As a literary style, opposed to classical since before 1812; in music, from 1885. Meaning "characteristic of an ideal love affair" (such as usually formed the subject of literary romances) is from 1660s. Meaning "having a love affair as a theme" is from 1960. Related: Romantical (1670s); romantically. Compare romanticism.
- romanticism (n.)
- 1803, "a romantic idea," from romantic + -ism. In literature, 1823 in reference to a movement toward medieval forms (especially in reaction to classical ones) it has an association now more confined to Romanesque. The movement began in German and spread to England and France. Generalized sense of "a tendency toward romantic ideas" is first recorded 1840.
- romanticist (n.)
- 1821; see romantic + -ist.
- romanticize (v.)
- 1818, from romantic + -ize. Related: Romanticized; romanticizing.
- Romany (n.)
- "a gypsy; the Gypsy language," 1812, romani, fem. of romano (adj.) "Gypsy," from rom, the Romany word for "man, husband, male, Gypsy" (plural roma), from Sanskrit domba-s ("with initial cerebral d, which confuses with r" [Klein]) "male member of a low caste of musicians."
- capital of Italy; seat of an ancient republic and empire; city of the Papacy, Old English, from Old French Rome, from Latin Roma, a word of uncertain origin. "The original Roma quadrata was the fortified enclosure on the Palatine hill," according to Tucker, who finds "no probability" in derivation from *sreu- "flow," and suggests the name is "most probably" from *urobsma (urbs, robur) and otherwise, "but less likely" from *urosma "hill" (compare Sanskrit varsman- "height, point," Lithuanian virsus "upper"). Another suggestion [Klein] is that it is from Etruscan (compare Rumon, former name of Tiber River).
Common in proverbs, such as Rome was not buylt in one daye (1540s); for when a man doth to Rome come, he must do as there is done (1590s); All roads alike conduct to Rome (1806).
- Romeo (n.)
- "a lover, passionate admirer, seducer of women," 1766, from the name of the hero in Shakespeare's tragedy "Romeo and Juliet" (1590s).
- Romish (adj.)
- "Roman-Catholic," 1530s, from Rome + -ish.
- romp (v.)
- 1709, "to play, sport, frolic;" 1734, "piece of lively play;" perhaps a variant of ramp (v.); but also see romp (n.). Meaning "to win (a contest) with great ease" first attested 1888. Related: Romped; romping.
- romp (n.)
- 1734, "piece of lively play," from romp (v.). From 1706 as "a wanton girl" (probably a variant of ramp (n.2)).
- romper (n.)
- 1842, agent noun from romp (v.). Rompers "small children's overalls" first recorded 1909, on model of trousers.
- masc. proper name, from Old Norse Rögnvaldr "Having the Gods' Power," from rögn "gods," literally "decreeing powers" (plural of regin "decree") + valdr "ruler" (see wield).
- rondeau (n.)
- 1520s, from Middle French rondeau, from Old French rondel "short poem" (see rondel). Metrical form of 10 or 13 lines with only two rhymes.
- rondel (n.)
- late 14c. as a type of verse, from Old French rondel "short poem," literally "small circle" (13c.), diminutive of roont (fem. roonde) "circular" (see round (adj.)). Metrical form of 14 lines with only two rhymes. So called because the initial couplet is repeated at the end.