he rolls his own

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by mjoblo, Sep 12, 2008.

  1. mjoblo New Member

    Hi, would someone help me with that expression?? I would translate it by:"Il s'arrange par lui-même, sans aide" mais, je me questionne... est-ce que ça suggère une descente comme: "Il court à sa propre perte"??? Merci pour votre aide.
  2. Canard Senior Member

    Portland, OR
    English, USA
    Where'd you hear/read that expression? I've never heard it, but two possibilities come to mind :/
    1. He rolls his own (cigarettes)
    2. He rolls on his own. (a lame gangster-style expression meaning "he flies solo" which is as you translated it, though you'd more likely hear something like "he rolls by hisself" :p)
  3. mjoblo New Member

    Thank you, This was a sentence that I had to put in context in my grammar class using the progressive and the simple form, two different contexts, though. So, I'll go with: " He rolls his own, he has never received help from anybody in his life" and "He's rolling his own, in this situation, nobody can do anything." What do you think about it?
  4. Canard Senior Member

    Portland, OR
    English, USA
    The problem is I've never heard that exact expression. The one closest to what you're after is stigmatized as uneducated teenager talk, or facetious humor making fun of such language. It might be regional to some other sphere of the English-speaking world, but "he rolls on his own" is definitely American, however crude and not recommended. I'd go for a more standard and widely understood idiom, like "he flies solo" or "he goes it alone"... something along those lines.

    If this was assigned by a teacher, I'd inquire what "he rolls his own" means. The first thing that came to my mind was rather "he rolls his own cigarettes".

    Sorry I couldn't be of more help :/
  5. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    I've never heard it either, Canard ~ except in the context of rolling one's own cigarettes.
  6. mjoblo New Member

    Well, I wonder why my teacher included this sentence in the exercise, but I'll come back in this thread as soon as I know more about it..My next class is next thursday!
  7. Angle O'Phial

    Angle O'Phial Senior Member

    USA English
    It is a bit odd in this context. The original context, as already mentioned, is cigarettes. By extension, rolling your own means making something which is typically store bought. It's used frequently in computer programming circles. I couldn't find any software to do XXX so I had to roll my own (i.e. write my own program to do XXX).
  8. eaderbreca New Member


    I think I will personally go for "doing something solo" for rolling on his own.
    Good luck :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 18, 2008
  9. wonk New Member

    Well, I used "He rolls his own business(company)" and "He is rolling his own - cigarettes". I just hope I won't be the one reading this exemple :rolleyes: Especially cause the TA is in fact the teacher:eek:
  10. mjoblo New Member

    I first want to thank all of you and you were right, the teacher wanted us to put the sentence into a context and that included to roll something, as a cigarette or sushi etc...
  11. eaderbreca New Member

    this expression is really not used a lot, only with cigarettes it seems.

    Good luck with your test next week :)
  12. Wallslide New Member

    Seattle, Wa
    USA, English
    I've actually heard this phrase used quite a bit. It basically means "to build your own version of something from scratch". The most common context that I've heard it used in is where somebody is unsatisfied with current solutions to a problem, so instead of using the current solutions, they wish to create their own alternative. It's often used in the field of computers (and engineering fields in general). When programming for example, if one opts to write their own version of something that already exists, then that is a an example of rolling one's own.

    "I'm not satisfied with any of the existing flashcard studying programs so I'm going to roll my own."

    This means that I am going to create my own flashcard studying program instead of using somebody else's.
  13. mjoblo New Member

    Thanks a lot, I am satisfied with your answer. Now, it's clear to me.
  14. Scholiast

    Scholiast Senior Member

    The expression does indeed of course refer to hand-rolling cigarettes. Its origin however is an interesting piece of modern history. In Dec. 1941, just after the bombing of Pearl Harbor ensured that the USA would enter the war, Churchill flew to Washington to meet FDR. They agreed that they would each broadcast to their respective nations on the radio after Churchill's return to London - and Roosevelt set his team of speech-writers (including a judge, a poet, and the playwright Robert Sherwood) to work on a suitably sonorous piece of oratory. The broadcasts were supposed to be simultaneous, but Churchill got in first, almost immediately after his landing in Britain - and Roosevelt (who had not heard Churchill on the radio before) gasped in astonishment at the stirring prose and delivery and, turning to Sherwood, asked him who Churchill had working for him as a speechwriter. "I am afraid, Mr President," came the reply, "He rolls his own". Churchill had written the speech in the plane over the Atlantic.
    (My source for this was one of the great Alistair Cooke's weekly Letters from America, broadcast on BBC radio in, I think, 1990).
    I hope this is helpful
  15. franc 91 Senior Member

    English - GB
    Welcome to the forum Scholiast - you've beaten me to it - I remember it too from one of Alistair Cooke's broadcasts.

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