Roll out
Posted: 19 September 2007 12:53 PM   [ Ignore ]
Total Posts:  590
Joined  2007-02-22

Listening to a BBC radio article about cliches in politicians’ speech, I started to wonder the origin of the expression to “roll out”, usually employed to mean “implement”.  It always makes me think of the old days of car manufacture, where a small factory might roll (push) the new model out of the factory doors for the appreciative multitude to view, but I have no idea if this is the origin.

Posted: 19 September 2007 01:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Total Posts:  6267
Joined  2007-01-03

I believe the usage comes from the aviation industry. Cars are usually introduced on a stage, but new airplanes are “rolled out” of a hangar to an appreciative crowd. The OED has the noun “roll out” from 1957 in an aviation context. There is no entry for the verb “to roll out.”

The dictionary does, however, have an 1872 citation from a dictionary of Americanisms for “to roll out” meaning to begin a journey or commence an enterprise. As this is a single cite, I suspect that’s it’s unrelated to the current usage.

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