Role – from the old French word for roll.

Role and roll are homophones; words that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings, whenever I come across a homophone I can’t help but wonder what the story is, are they related in a surprising way? Why didn’t anyone think it was a bad idea and that it might cause confusion?

Roll: Something which revolves

The word roll can be dated back to the early 13th century, it joined our language from old French, the old French word being ‘rolle’.

Role – a part one plays

The word ‘role’ can be dated back to the 1600s and joined our language from French too. It comes from a the French word ‘rôle’ which meant the same thing and is a derivative of the old French word ‘rolle’; the word was also applied to actors and referred to the rolled up pieces of paper on which their lines were written.

So they’re surprisingly related 🙂


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