Meaning of “role” in the English Dictionary

"role" in British English

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rolenoun [ C ]

uk /rəʊl/ us /roʊl/

role noun [ C ] (DUTY)

B2 the position or purpose that someone or something has in a situation, organization, society, or relationship:

What is his role in this project?
Schools play an important role in society.
Six people have been put on trial for their role (= involvement) in the anti-government demonstrations.

More examples

  • Your role in the project will be strictly defined.
  • The role of the police is to ensure (that) the law is obeyed.
  • Television has an important role to play in popularizing new scientific ideas.
  • The government should be playing a more prominent role in promoting human rights.
  • The kidney plays a vital role in the removal of waste products from the blood.

role noun [ C ] (ACTING)

B1 an actor's part in a film or play:

She's got a leading/supporting role in the school play.
She plays the role of a crooked lawyer.

More examples

  • She quickly left the chorus for a starring role.
  • She's done all the important Shakespearean roles apart from Lady Macbeth.
  • Marlene Dietrich was immortalized through her roles in movies like 'The Blue Angel'.
  • The six principal roles in this opera have an average vocal range of two octaves.
  • In despair, the theatre director recast the leading role.

(Definition of “role” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"role" in American English

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rolenoun [ C ]

us /roʊl/

role noun [ C ] (DUTY)

the duty or use that someone or something usually has or is expected to have:

Bouchard hopes to play a pivotal/major/key role in Quebec’s future.

role noun [ C ] (REPRESENTATION)

the person whom an actor represents in a movie or play:

Astin plays the role of Radford, the store’s owner.

(Definition of “role” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)