Definition of roof in English:



  • 1The structure forming the upper covering of a building or vehicle:

    ‘the rain woke him, hammering on the roof’
    ‘a thatched roof’
    ‘a car with a vinyl roof’
    [as modifier] ‘roof timbers’
    • ‘She peered down the side of the building to see the roof of another structure less than five or six feet below.’
    • ‘Many of the buildings have lost their thatched roofs or have had them replaced by crude sheets of corrugated iron.’
    • ‘Their thatch roofs start with a log frame, followed by thin bamboo, leaves, and, finally, grass.’
    • ‘A boat was speeding along the rather rough seas, a heavy storm beating down over the roof of the vehicle.’
    • ‘In this area, most roofs are covered with asphalt shingles.’
    • ‘Her mother stumbled and fell against a wall, and the movement brought down a weakened timber from the roof.’
    • ‘Burnt roof timbers beneath the collapsed tiles show it was destroyed in a fire.’
    • ‘Beyond the house was what appeared to be a tiny village, but was in fact a number of farm buildings with thatched roofs.’
    • ‘Rural houses usually are built of traditional materials and are open-sided rectangular structures with thatched roofs and raised floors.’
    • ‘The aged timber cracked and the roof began to give way, spraying us with a shower of dirt and small debris.’
    • ‘Houses in villages are commonly rectangular, and are dried mud, bamboo, or red brick structures with thatch roofs.’
    • ‘The tiered seating is protected with a cantilevered roof structure that hovers over the stadium.’
    • ‘The missionaries introduced the burnt brick, used to build into square structures, while the colonists built wood-frame structures with metal roofs.’
    • ‘Unplanned expenses over the last few years for a new roof, replacement gutters, and new carpeting have stretched them to the limit.’
    • ‘Four- and five-story structures with terra-cotta roofs and numerous balconies soon appear.’
    1. 1.1 The top inner surface of a covered area or space; the ceiling:
      ‘the roof of the cave fell in’
      • ‘These are special liners on the sides and sometimes the roof and back of an oven, which are treated with a material that absorbs those greasy splashes.’
      roof, vault, vaulting
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Used to signify a house or other building, especially in the context of hospitality or shelter:
      ‘helping those without a roof over their heads’
      ‘they slept under the same roof’
      ‘a range of childcare facilities all under one roof’
      ‘while you live under my roof you're not going to have a tattoo’
      • ‘She was legally his wife, though they'd never shared a roof together in the forty years since they met at art school.’
      • ‘He sometimes shared a roof with other wanderers.’
      • ‘All they can offer is a roof for the night, some local brew, and a meal at which most dogs would turn up their noses.’
      • ‘The woman worked two jobs to keep a roof over their heads and food on their table.’
      • ‘He was nearly 40 before he could afford to feed his family or keep a roof over their heads.’
      • ‘I shall never share a roof with her again!’
      • ‘The meeting was held in the open air; for Ethelbert had a superstitious fear that they might do him some mischief by magical arts, if he were to trust himself under a roof with them.’
      • ‘I can offer her a roof and I'll share my food with her.’
      • ‘I know you must share a roof with him.’
      • ‘Too many people drift through life, doing jobs they stumble into that pay the bills and keep a roof over their heads.’
      • ‘The Cabin was small and fairly uncomfortable but it was a roof over their heads and that at least was something.’
      • ‘This means that if you are unable to keep up repayments you will lose the roof over your head.’
      • ‘She had been homeless until a friend, the property's tenant, offered her a roof.’
      • ‘No one goes hungry, we all have a roof over our heads to shelter us, and happiness is a common visitor.’
      • ‘So much so that many people did not even have a roof over their heads.’
      • ‘Got to go to the charity ball so that those poor dears get a roof over their heads.’
  • 2The upper limit or level of prices or wages:

    ‘starting salary £12,185, rising to a roof of £16,835’


  • 1 Cover with a roof:

    ‘the yard had been roughly roofed over with corrugated iron’
    • ‘Joist holes show how the intervening space was roofed over.’
    • ‘This building looked massive and well built, and was roofed over with lead.’
    • ‘Thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund, museums and art galleries have been extended or altered or had their courtyards roofed over.’
    • ‘The building is framed in wood on the south side and roofed with metal to collect rain water.’
    • ‘Huts vary: round, square, tin-roofed or thatched.’
    • ‘In the brick paved courtyard to the rear, there is a newly roofed stone building with loft, which could be converted into a studio, workshop or provide extra bedrooms for a bed and breakfast facility.’
    • ‘Perhaps it'd once been a balcony around the edge of the courtyard, now it was opened out, floored in polished wood, roofed over, and provided with an ornate balcony rail.’
    • ‘The second floor is mansard roofed, and contains two en suite bedrooms, one of which could be used as a home gymnasium.’
    • ‘These rectangular structures sit on top of traditional flat roofed buildings, catching the slightest breeze and funnelling the wind down into the structure.’
    • ‘Soon she came to the second floor of a large very cold open roofed hall.’
    • ‘While rural communities still contain examples of traditional round huts with thatched conical roofs, most newer houses have a rectangular floor plan and are roofed with sheets of corrugated zinc or tin.’
    • ‘Wealthier people such as civil servants and merchants live in dwellings constructed of cement blocks, laid with a cement floor, and roofed with metal sheets.’
    1. 1.1 Function as the roof of:
      ‘fan vaults roof these magnificent buildings’
      • ‘It, like the other buildings, was growing out of the tree, it was roofed by huge leaves that overlapped like shingles, the huge doors were composed of what looked like vines, but were far too thick, and too far above ground to be roots.’


  • go through the roof

    • 1informal (of prices or figures) reach extreme or unexpected heights:

      ‘rents have gone through the roof’
      • ‘Land supply slowed to a trickle; prices went through the roof and governments reaped huge rewards, instead of meeting the needs of people seeking to buy a home.’
      • ‘The only factor is that the prices have gone through the roof, and the quality of timber deteriorated, as the trees felled these days are much younger than those felled a decade ago.’
      • ‘Energy prices have gone through the roof and somehow taken a route through your wallet to get there.’
      • ‘In the markets, demand for lambs has gone through the roof this week, with many sale yards quoting prices dearer by up to $20 and $30 per head.’
      • ‘But people in their late 20s and early 30s with above-average salaries can no longer afford a house and are trying to rent, while rents are going through the roof.’
      • ‘With gas prices going through the roof, it should come as no big surprise that some motorists are looking for alternative sources to power their cars.’
      • ‘If we get a brutally cold December and January, prices will go back up and heating oil prices could go through the roof.’
      • ‘House prices are going through the roof, and so you'd probably like an agent to drop by and make a free valuation of your house.’
      • ‘For example, take domestic energy prices, which have been going through the roof this year.’
      • ‘Fuelled by optimism and cheap money, asset prices and investment went through the roof.’
    • 2informal Suddenly become very angry:

      ‘when she surprised him in bed with another woman she hit the roof’
      • ‘My parents hit the roof when they found out I'd gotten detention.’
      • ‘When she saw the coat and heard John had bought it for me she hit the roof.’
      • ‘I knew Kitty would hit the roof, so I picked up a bribe.’
      • ‘When I got there on Wednesday and was told there were still no beds, I hit the roof.’
      • ‘Before your stress level hits the roof, focus on the fact that your best friend is coming to see you and not your house and in no time you can become a well-oiled hospitality machine.’
      • ‘She said ‘My father would hit the roof if he found out.’’
      be very angry, be furious, lose one's temper, go into a rage, breathe fire
      go mad, go crazy, be hopping mad, be livid, go wild, go bananas, have a fit, blow one's top, blow a fuse, blow a gasket, do one's nut, go through the roof, go up the wall, go off the deep end, go ape, flip, flip one's lid, lose one's rag, be fit to be tied, go non-linear
      go spare, go crackers, get one's knickers in a twist
      flip one's wig
      View synonyms
  • raise the roof

    • Make a great deal of noise, especially through cheering:

      ‘when I finally scored the fans raised the roof’
      • ‘The New Zealand Barbarians received polite applause and the England team, not surprisingly, were met with a standing ovation that raised the roof.’
      • ‘At the time you complained that your laughs disappeared into the cavernous sky-high ceiling, but two of the Canuck comics preceding you had no problem firing up the crowd and raising the roof.’
      • ‘More than 100 people, including his friends and family, packed out the pub on Saturday night, and raised the roof when the results were announced.’
      • ‘It was just fantastic; there were 4000 voices raising the roof - shivers down the spine stuff.’
      • ‘When they start singing the Marseillaise, they can raise the roof - and that is enough to put the fear of God into any opposition.’
      • ‘The arrival of both teams was greeted by a huge ovation as the small crowd of only 32,187 supporters raised the roof and made their presence felt.’
      • ‘I sincerely hope that the next time Paula sets foot in a British stadium, the crowd absolutely raise the roof for her.’
      • ‘The team grew in confidence after that goal and, with the home supporters raising the roof, Azerbaijan looked shaken.’
      • ‘He is urging fans to raise the roof and roar Burnley to safety.’
      • ‘A big Manchester crowd raised the roof as the Grantown-on-Spey rider clocked an impressive time, just a tenth of a second slower than his best.’
  • the roof of the world

    • The Himalayas.

      • ‘Get up onto the roof of the world, they don't get bigger than the High Himalayas, and all the rest of life just seems to fall into place around you.’
      • ‘Everest has been climbed by more than 1,300 men and women, including nearly 80 Japanese, since Hillary and Tenzing first set foot on the roof of the world.’
      • ‘Hillary's memory remains crystal clear about what they endured during that final push to the top on May 29, 1953, which resulted in his becoming the first person in history to stand on the roof of the world.’
      • ‘Comprising two of Asia's major mountain ranges, the mountains of Central Asia were known to early Persians as the roof of the world.’
      • ‘Tourism is an important part of Nepal's economy and Sagarmatha National Park is a popular destination, with people drawn to the roof of the world.’


Old English hrōf, of Germanic origin; related to Old Norse hróf boat shed, Dutch roef deckhouse. English alone has the general sense ‘covering of a house’; other Germanic languages use forms related to thatch.