On a Roll – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Has the sports team you support won all matches they played in recent memory? You could say that your team is “on a roll.”

This post dives into the meaning and origin of this fascinating idiom. Of course, we’ll also show you how to use “on a roll” in a sentence.


The common English idiom “on a roll” refers to the dice game craps, where players bet on the result of dice rolls.

You experience a winning streak or a period of extreme luck or success if you are “on a roll.”

The idiom “on a roll” can refer to success in gambling, business, or life. You can also say that someone who has recently been very productive is “on a roll.”

Example Usage

Would you like to add the idiomatic saying “on a roll” to your everyday lexicon? These example sentences illustrate how to do that:

  • “Oh, you want to learn how to play Team Fortress 2? My brother’s really into that, and he’s been on a roll I bet he could teach you how to win.”
  • “Tara was really on a roll during last night’s spelling bee. We’re lucky to have her on the team, but we’ll all have to work harder to keep up with her.”
  • “Keeping up with chores was impossible as I recovered from surgery, but now I’m on a roll I cleaned the bathroom, vacuumed and mopped the floor, and even decluttered that horrible old shed today. I might take the garage on tomorrow.”


The verb “to roll” has been part of the English language since the 14th century. It means that something turns repeatedly and usually refers to a cylinder or sphere. The word is related to the Latin “rota,” meaning “wheel.”

For some reason, we also speak of “rolling the dice.”

The gambling game craps is all about rolling dice and betting on the result. Crap shooters (meaning people who play craps) are said to be “on a roll” when they consistently bet on the winning outcome. This phenomenon is also known as a “winning streak.”

Winning craps players have been said to be “on a roll” since the early 1800s.

The phrase spread and took on a figurative meaning over time. You don’t have to play craps to be on a roll now; the expression can refer to any “winning streak.”

You can say you’re on a roll if you have been scoring one success after the other at work, been unusually productive, or are winning at any other game.

Phrases Similar to On a Roll

Other gambling-related idiomatic phrases include:

  • A crap shoot — this phrase also refers to the game craps and means that the outcome is down to chance.
  • A long shot — meaning low odds of success.
  • An ace up your sleeve — a hidden asset you can employ strategically.
  • All bets are off — everything is uncertain now.
  • A roll of the dice — something with an unpredictable outcome.

Phrases Opposite to On a Roll

You may be experiencing a “losing streak” if you are not on a roll.

Other ways to talk about failure that follows success include:

  • Losing your edge.
  • Go up in smoke.
  • Fall to pieces.
  • Go down the toilet.

What Is the Correct Saying?

The correct saying is “on a roll.” This phrase means that someone is experiencing a winning streak or a period of success and good luck without any setbacks.

Ways People May Say On a Roll Incorrectly

Some people may associate being on a roll with increased momentum, like a ball that rolls down a hill. While this imagery also works, it is good to remember that the phrase “on a roll” refers to gambling.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase On a Roll

You can say someone is “on a roll” if they experience a period of good fortune or success.

The expression is so widespread that nearly everyone will understand what you mean, and it is not too informal for business settings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *