‘Role Call' or 'Roll Call': What's the Difference Between the Two?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on December 6, 2022

Is taking attendance a type of ‘role call’, or is it a ‘roll call’? Don’t know the difference between the two? We’ll tackle that in this article, plus teach you how to use it in a sentence correctly.

Want a quick answer? ‘Roll call’ is the correct way to spell the phrase. ‘Role call’ is incorrect and ungrammatical. Once we get into the definition of each word, you’ll see why.

‘Role Call’ or ‘Roll Call’ – Which is Correct?

You’ve just learned that ‘role call’ is incorrect and ‘roll call is correct.’ Therefore, you'd never use the former in your writing.

‘Roll’ vs. ‘Role’ – How to Use Each Correctly

When using them separately from the word ‘call,’ both words are acceptable to use.

Take a look at a few examples of how to use each correctly.

  • The ball rolled down the lane and hit seven pins.
  • I had to roll my hair last night so that I wouldn’t be late this morning.
  • My niece just got a starring role in her school play.
  • They each have a role to play in their marriage.

Definition and Meaning of ‘Role’ 

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘role’ is: “a character assigned or assumed,” “a socially expected behavior pattern usually determined by an individual’s status in a particular society,” “a part played by an actor or singer,” and “a function or part performed especially in a particular operation or process.”

Synonyms of the word include:

  • Business
  • Job
  • Position
  • Work
  • Capacity
  • Part
  • Purpose
  • Function
  • Place
  • Task

Definition and Meaning of ‘Roll’ 

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘roll’ is: “a written document that may be rolled up: scroll,” “a document containing an official or formal record,” “a manuscript book,” “a list of names or related items: catalog,” “an official list,” and “a list of members of a school or class of members of a legislative body.”

It’s also defined as: “something that is rolled up into a cylinder or ball or rounded as if rolled,” “something that performs a rolling action or movement: roller,” “a wheel for making decorative lines on book covers,” and “a design impressed by such a tool.”

The verb version of the word is defined as: “to impel forward by causing to turn over and over on a surface,” “to cause to revolve by turning over and over on or as if on an axis,” and “to cause to move in a circular manner,” “to put a wrapping around: enfold, envelop,” “to press, spread, or level with a roller: make smooth, even, or compact,” “to move on rollers or wheels,” “to sound with a full reverberating tone,” “to combine so as to comprise one entity,” “to rob (a drunk, sleeping, or unconscious person) usually by going through the pockets,” “and “bowl.”

Phrases Containing the Word ‘Roll'

  • Roll the dice (assume risk by taking action)
  • Roll with the punches (adjust to things as they happen or move to lessen the impact of a blow)
  • On a roll (in the midst of a series of successes)

Synonyms of the word include:

  • Canon
  • Checklist
  • Menu
  • Catalog
  • List
  • Register
  • Roster
  • Listing
  • Registry

Using ‘Roll Call’ Correctly in a Sentence

Since we know what both words mean, let’s see how to use the phrase in a sentence properly.

Here are some examples of how to do that:

  • Only a fraction of legislation was decided by roll call.
  • Her kindergarten teacher took a roll call this morning to make sure everyone was present.
  • We don’t have roll call votes in this county.

Final Advice on ‘Role Call’ and ‘Roll Call’

We’ve discussed the correct way to spell the phrase, defined it, and taught you how to use it in a sentence. You know that ‘roll call’ is the correct way to spell the phrase now. Any other spelling of it would be incorrect.

To help you remember the correct spelling, try to remember that names used to be rolled up on a scroll. Scroll and roll rhyme and have similar spellings. If that doesn’t help you remember, you can always come back here to refresh your memory.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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