Roster Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

If you’ve ever heard the word roster and not known what it meant, don’t worry! This is roster’s meaning, where the word comes from, and how to use it!

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If you’ve ever seen a large group of people — from a sports team lineup to a music and dance crew to a bunch of members of an organization — you’ve probably heard of the word roster

However, seeing a word and knowing its meaning are two very different things. Roster has a wide-reaching meaning that may vary based on context. While it might just be a list of names to someone, it could mean something entirely different within a game or organization. 

This is what roster means, where the word comes from, and how to use it properly in the modern world! 

What Does Roster Mean? 

The definition of roster (rost-er) in the English dictionary is a list of members within a team or an organization, most commonly used to fill out a full list of the jobs that are necessary to complete. 

Within the context of something like a sports team, it will detail the names of players, which positions they are best at, and which are a part of the active playing lineup. Some synonyms can include list, directory, table, grid, or register. 

It is also commonly used for scheduling purposes and turns of duty. It makes sure that every person’s periods of duty line up well with their needs and purposes over the course of a period of time. If a particular unit or personnel is needed in a given situation, they will be put into the upcoming roster. 

Where Does the Word Roster Come From? 

According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, the word roster comes from Dutch and German. 

The original origin of the word is the Dutch roosten or roost, which means “to roast,”, particularly with a plate or a gridiron. This is a wildly different definition from the word roster, but the story behind it is pretty interesting. 

Around the 17th and 18th centuries, military personnel would write down the list of military officers and soldiers that would need to be active on a given day on lined paper. Many of the soldiers around this time thought that this ruled paper looked very similar to the gridiron that they would use to cook food. Because of that, the word became the Dutch rooster list. They then referred to this database with slightly different pronunciations, and the word roster was born. 

As time went on, the word was implemented into other languages, such as the German rösten and the English roster. Even though the translation of definitions may seem somewhat nonsensical, the actual meanings of the word just followed the purposes of the people using the word over time, which is very typical in language as a whole. 

When Can We Use the Word Roster? 

The word roster is commonly used to describe many people and organizations. For example, a music label has a roster of artists that it does business with. A baseball team might have a roster of pitchers that they rely on in various games. Janitorial staff will often create a new cleaning roster at the beginning of every week to schedule their employees. 

If a steady and consistent group of people works together to achieve something or live in the same context, they can almost always be identified as a roster. While some contexts generally use different vocabulary to describe a roster, it is relatively rare that it is actually a wrong definition to use the word roster. 

Example Sentences Using the Word Roster

One of the best ways to learn how to use a word is by seeing it used in context with example sentences. Take a look at some of these examples, and then see if you can start to fit the word into your daily conversations! 

  • The college had put together an impressive roster for its football team. 
  • The roster spots for the jazz label quickly got filled up. 
  • Yesterday, I scheduled the roster of the volunteers for the remainder of the year. 
  • The roster of airline pilots all gathered together to learn about the newly introduced plane that they would be flying. 
  • I told my boss to never put me on the roster for Fridays and Saturdays. 
  • The skilled roster of doctors amazingly managed to repair the ligament in my right knee. 
  • While other friend groups call themselves a squad, I call us a roster. 
  • The roster of newly hired cooks lined up to watch the master chef make a perfect English roast. 
  • The roster of soldiers laughed as they saw Mr. Muster roll down the hill. 
  • I got scheduled on the locomotive staff for both Sunday and Wednesday. 
  • The roster of professors at Princeton University from Philadelphia has gotten more significant and more prominent over the years. 
  • The conference coaches conversed about how much they loved their rosters. 
  • Mr. Iverson’s name showed up at least fourteen times in the roster. 
  • The company pulled together an imposing roster of lawyers to assist with their copyright lawsuit case over the ad they posted in the magazine’s fifth edition. 


Understanding how to use words in their proper context is one of the most essential parts of effective communication. If you want to grow and develop how you communicate with people in the modern world, feel free to take a look around our blog

We’re constantly posting new articles, guides, and posts that help clear the air around confusing words, phrases, acronyms, and more. 

Mastering how you communicate with the world can lead to massive improvements in virtually every area of your life. If you want to grow and develop your mastery of the English language, take a good look around — we’re sure that you’ll learn something valuable!


  1. Roster Definition & Meaning |
  2. Roster definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary
  3. Roster – Definition, Meaning & Synonyms |