On a roll
Posted: 14 June 2007 04:34 AM   [ Ignore ]
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The meaning is clear.  The origin is not.  None of my usual sources offer much help.
First use of “on a roll” and any facts or good speculation about the origin of the phrase would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Cuchuflete

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Posted: 14 June 2007 05:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Nothing as to origin in OED but I’d be astonished if it proved to refer to anything other than the roll of a pair of dice.

roll, n.2 1,h. In colloq. phr. on a roll (orig. N. Amer.), enjoying a sequence of successes or a run of good fortune.

1976 [see winning streak s.v. WINNING vbl. n.1 9]. 1979 Tucson Mag. Jan. 26/1 Now she is 26 and on a roll. 1983 Christian Science Monitor 5 Dec. 43/2 The paranoia of seeing the Soviets on a roll, the sense of the U.S. in decline, has about evaporated. 1984 Times 21 Mar. 19/2 The economy is on a powerful roll, but I am not worried about overheating. 1985 New Yorker 29 Apr. 55/2 Culpepper was on a roll… He could do no wrong.

BTW I’m puzzled by the 1976 cite (or rather absence of one). I can’t find anything relevant under winning streak

[ Edited: 14 June 2007 05:28 AM by aldiboronti ]
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Posted: 14 June 2007 05:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I too always assumed it referred to the (lucky) roll of a dice.

BTW I’m puzzled by the 1976 cite (or rather absence of one). I can’t find anything relevant under winning streak

That is odd—apparently they added winning streak to the list of phrases but forgot to add a cite.

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Posted: 14 June 2007 05:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Winning streak is further cross-referenced to streak, n1, 6b:

1976 New Yorker 15 Nov. 162/1 ‘We’re on a winning streak. We’re on a hot roll,’ one city official said happily last summer, during the triumphal series of events that began with Operation Sail and extended through other local Bicentennial celebrations.

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Posted: 14 June 2007 06:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Well--for example--in the game of craps, a sequence of good rolls could easily evoke such an expression.

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Posted: 14 June 2007 04:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Thanks to all of you for the good replies.

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