a part or character played by an actor or actress.
proper or customary function: the teacher's role in society.
Sociology. the rights, obligations, and expected behavior patterns associated with a particular social status.
Also, rôle.

1600–10; < French rôle roll (as of paper) containing the actor's part

multirole, adjective

role, roll.

2. capacity, position, responsibility, duty. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
role or rôle (rəʊl)
1.  a part or character in a play, film, etc, to be played by an actor or actress
2.  psychol the part played by a person in a particular social setting, influenced by his expectation of what is appropriate
3.  usual or customary function: what is his role in the organization?
[C17: from French rôleroll, an actor's script]
rôle or rôle
[C17: from French rôleroll, an actor's script]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

"part or character one takes," 1606, from Fr. rôle "part played by a person in life," lit. "roll (of paper) on which an actor's part is written," from O.Fr. rolle (see roll). Role model first attested 1957.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

role or rôle (rōl)
The characteristic and expected social behavior of an individual.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Example sentences
They are mentioned in diaries and letters, their names appear on the pension
  roles, they attended the reunions.
From the tiniest shrimp to the biggest whale, all living things play roles in a
  food chain.
Without trees to fill these roles, many former forest lands can quickly become
  barren deserts.
From the beginning he has been breaking barriers and stepping outside the roles
  people make for him.
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