On a Roll (Idiom) – Meaning, Origins and Examples

on a roll idiom meaning and examples, explained below

The idiom “on a roll” is frequently employed to describe someone who is experiencing a period of success or good fortune.

It’s used in situations where a person is consistently succeeding or performing well, particularly after a series of successes or wins, implying that they have momentum and are likely to continue their streak.

Example: After closing three major deals in a week, the sales team was really “on a roll.”

chrisAbout the Author: has a PhD in Education. He has been a teacher in schools and universities and has taught English as a Second Language in Colombia. He is former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.

On a Roll Idiom Origins

The expression “on a roll” is believed to have its roots in gambling, particularly in games that involve rolling dice.

As you can see from this historical graph, it’s an idiom that has been around for a long time – at least since the early 1800s and probably earlier – and has maintained popularity throughout the decades.

Interestingly, its popularity has been particularly high of recent decades:

Here’s a deeper look into its historical context:

  • Gambling Connections: In certain gambling games, a player who is “on a roll” is experiencing a streak of successful dice rolls. The player has momentum, and each successful roll builds upon the last, potentially leading to significant gains. In this scenario, other players might say the gambler is “on a roll” to describe their continued luck.
  • Applying to General Success: As the idiom migrated out of the gambling context, it started to be used more broadly to describe anyone experiencing a continuous streak of success or a series of victories in any area of life, from business to sports to academic achievements.

In contemporary usage, the term is widespread and can be applied in various contexts, indicating a series of successes or a run of good luck, as illustrated by this Google Ngram Viewer graph, showing a steady rise in the use of the term over the past few decades.

10 Examples in a Sentence

  • “After winning six matches in a row, the team is clearly on a roll.”
  • “With her third novel topping the bestseller list, the author is really on a roll.”
  • “Ever since the new CEO took over, the company has been on a roll with innovative product launches.”
  • “The scientist was on a roll, publishing several breakthrough research papers in a single year.”
  • “The chef is on a roll with these incredible new dishes he’s creating.”
  • “The student, winning several scholarships and awards, was evidently on a roll.”
  • “The actor is on a roll, with back-to-back hit movies this year.”
  • “After solving several complex cases, the detective was definitely on a roll.”
  • “Scoring top grades in all her assignments, she’s clearly on a roll this semester.”
  • “The artist is on a roll with his exhibitions selling out across the country.”

Practice Questions Worksheet for Students

Question 1: Which situation best illustrates the phrase “on a roll”?

  • a) Losing consecutive soccer matches
  • b) Winning a series of chess games
  • c) Forgetting lines during a play
  • d) Missing several basketball shots

Question 2: If a scientist made several breakthroughs in a month, what might colleagues say?

  • a) “He’s really on a roll.”
  • b) “He’s beating around the bush.”
  • c) “He’s at a standstill.”
  • d) “He’s out of the loop.”

Question 3: In a business context, if a team closes multiple deals in a week, they are:

  • a) Taking a back seat
  • b) On a roll
  • c) Hitting a brick wall
  • d) Biting the bullet

Question 4: If a singer releases multiple hit songs consecutively, it means:

  • a) She’s on a roll
  • b) She’s jumped on the bandwagon
  • c) She’s lost her touch
  • d) She’s thrown in the towel

Similar Idioms

1. In the zone

Definition: Being extremely focused or performing at peak ability.

In a Sentence: “During the game, he was in the zone and scored multiple points.”

2. Hitting a stride

Definition: Finding a steady pace or making consistent progress.

In a Sentence: “After a shaky start, the team is finally hitting their stride.”

3. On fire

Definition: Performing exceptionally well, often in a competitive context.

In a Sentence: “The player was on fire, scoring goals one after the other.”

4. Streak

Definition: A continuous series, usually related to a positive outcome or wins.

In a Sentence: “He’s on a winning streak with five victories so far.”

5. Hot hand

Definition: Experiencing good luck or a series of successes, often in gambling or games.

In a Sentence: “He has the hot hand at the poker table tonight.”

6. Golden touch

Definition: The ability to make successful or profitable decisions.

In a Sentence: “Everything she invests in seems to succeed; she really has the golden touch.”

7. On a winning streak

Definition: Experiencing a series of consecutive victories.

In a Sentence: “With no losses in the past ten matches, the player is on a winning streak.”

8. Going great guns

Definition: Proceeding or performing with great speed, vigor, or success.

In a Sentence: “The project is going great guns under the new manager.”

9. In full swing

Definition: Fully active or operational; at the peak of activity.

In a Sentence: “Production is in full swing at the new factory.”

10. In high gear

Definition: Operating at a fast or effective rate.

In a Sentence: “With the deadline approaching, the team shifted into high gear.”

11. Riding high

Definition: Experiencing success or popularity.

In a Sentence: “After the release of his hit album, the musician is riding high.”

12. On cloud nine

Definition: Extremely happy or satisfied, often due to success.

In a Sentence: “After winning the award, she was on cloud nine.”

13. On a tear

Definition: Experiencing a period of great success or performance.

In a Sentence: “The stock market is on a tear right now.”

14. On the up and up

Definition: Experiencing improvement or advancement.

In a Sentence: “His career is definitely on the up and up.”

15. Knocking it out of the park

Definition: Performing extremely well; exceeding expectations.

In a Sentence: “Their latest product release is knocking it out of the park.”

Scroll to Top