I just started reading a Poe book which is the third book I’ve picked up in the past week that spells role as rôle. Given the publication dates and authors of the books in question, it’s been unclear to me whether the use of the circumflex was (a) British, (b) old-fashioned, or (c) both.

So I finally looked it up. I found a semi-useful discussion on Stack Exchange that leads me to suspect option C; at least one modern British person who responded there uses the circumflex, but at least two others don’t.

…I’ve been occasionally seeing rôle used all my life, but I think that for many years I assumed it was a French word that meant something else entirely; it seemed obvious to me that if it just meant “role,” it wouldn’t have a circumflex.

2 Responses to “rôle”

  1. irilyth

    Huh, my recollection from high school French is that the ô usually matches with what would be “os” in English, like hôpital vs hospital. I think hôtel vs hostel is similar, although we’ve gone with “hotel” in modern English. TSOR does not turn up any obvious indication that a “rosle” was ever anything. :^ )

  2. Jeremy

    I think of it as a little fancy—just like the restaurants that serve “rôlls” instead of “rolls”.


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