Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A character or part played by a performer.
  • n. The characteristic and expected social behavior of an individual.
  • n. A function or position. See Synonyms at function.
  • n. Linguistics The function of a word or construction, as in a sentence.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A character or part played by a performer or actor.
  • n. The expected behaviour of an individual in a society.
  • n. The function or position of something.
  • n. : The function of a word in a phrase.

Etymologies

French rôle, from Old French rolle, roll of parchment (on which an actor's part was written), from Latin rotula, diminutive of rota, wheel; see roll.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French rôle. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Although he is yet to find an €œauthor-backed role€ and dislikes having to audition after proving himself, Tanay is lucky for having retained a foothold in Bollywood by playing the young Shah Rukh in Karan Johar€ ™ s My Name Is Khan. €œHe had auditioned for the role much before Slumdog but Karan Johar insisted he wanted him after Slumdog€ ™ s success, € says Tejal, who will not hire a professional manager lest he overbook her son.

    The Times of India

  • The term role model is grossly, grossly overused these days.

    Alyson Renaldo: Model Your Role

  • Recently available from the Criterion Collection, it stars Robert Mitchum in the title role, meaning that he's not a hero, not even an anti-hero, just a victim of circumstance.

    Slate Magazine

  • Anita uses what little knowledge she can access in order to survive Alejandra Manzo gives a breakout performance in the title role, mostly just by being herself.

    George Heymont: Three Unforgettable Characters

  • France he Paris Opera kicks off the new fall season this weekend with soprano Angela Denoke in the title role of Richard Strauss's "Salomé," at the Opéra Bastille (Sept. 8-30), and Mozart's "La Clemenza di Tito," staged by Willy Decker, at the Palais Garnier (Sept. 10-Oct. 8), followed by a much-anticipated new production of Gounod's "Faust" with star tenor Roberto Alagna in the title role (Bastille, Sept. 22-Oct. 25).

    Packing in the Performances

  • After Glyndebourne, Mr. Finley returns to Mozart, performing the title role in "Don Giovanni" at Covent Garden and New York's Met early next year.

    Glyndebourne: The Great Leveler

  • In the fall, she has the title role in Al Pacino's "Wilde Salome," based on a 2006 stage production in which she and Mr. Pacino co-starred.

    An Unfamiliar Face, Soon Everywhere

  • Since then, he's become a fixture, and in 1994 sang the title role in "Le Nozze di Figaro" on the opening night of the new theater—an iconic date in the festival's history.

    Glyndebourne: The Great Leveler

  • And while the photo on the press-conference invitation — a close-up of soprano Anna Netrebko dressed for the title role of Donizetti's "Anna Bolena" — gives a hint at what's to come, the subject of palace intrigue is more about what's going on in the pit.

    The Dawn of the Modern Super Conductor

  • Though Sternberg made films as late as the early 1950s, there were no more comebacks after an aborted attempt in 1937 to film Robert Graves's "I, Claudius," with Charles Laughton in the title role and Merle Oberon as Messalina.

    Master of the Mise-en-Scène

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