late 13c., "thing that rolls, roller for moving heavy objects;" late 14c., "a rolling pin," agent noun from roll (v.). The sense of "heavy cylinder for smoothing the ground is from 1520s.
Meaning "hair-curler" is attested from 1795; as a printer's tool, by 1790; as a device for applying paint, etc. to a flat surface, by 1955. The meaning "long, heavy, swelling wave" is by 1829. In combinations, it often means "done on or by means of roller-skates," for example roller derby (by 1936; see derby); roller hockey (1926); roller-disco (1978). 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.
updated on September 15, 2021
Dictionary entries near roller