Grammar Guerilla: Roll and Role

Guerilla GorillaOne of the more frequent mistakes I see in email and online is confusion between role and roll. These are homophones. They usually make the same sounds in English but they are different words with distinct meanings. One plays a role on a team. One eats a roll for breakfast. One might have a role in a film that requires one to roll down a hill but in any event roll and role are two different words with two distinct uses and meanings.

I also hear and read “chomping at the bit” and “champing at the bit.” They may both be correct but in a formal setting it might be wiser to use “champing at the bit.” Champ is the British and older American usage and chomp seems to be the contemporary American colloquial usage.

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  1. Headline – Breaking News:

    “Man Tries to Run Down Estranged Wife With Car. Dear In the Headlights Runs for Deer Life.”

  2. If I may engage is a bit of pedantry, isn’t this an example of bad spelling rather than bad grammar? Grammar deals with the structure of language rather than its orthography.

  3. Scott,

    I thought a pedant was something you hang around your neck. What does jewelry have to do with bad spelling?

  4. I see that no one took the bait.

    Thanks, Dr. Clark, for letting us have a little fun! (Although, as I near retirement in three months, twenty-one days, it doesn’t take much.)

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