I am reading a sci-fi text and cannot figure out one idiom. What is the meaning of the bolded phrase? The context is this:

Corazon Santiago launched into a roll, crossing the narrow metal hallway in the blink of a photosynth eye. She came up to her feet, lightweight rubber soles gripping the floor, maintaining her catlike balance. She looked through optical tinted goggles, flicking her eyes around to get all the scan modes: regular, heat, ultraviolet, motion trail.

Would appreciate any equivalanet paraphrase.

  • 4
    "a sci-fi text" What text? Please make it clear what book you are quoting from (I think I know from the name "Corazon Santiago" but it good practice to include this information in your question.) Also "roll" has several dictionary meanings. Which one do you think is most appropriate here?
    – James K
    Commented Jun 27, 2021 at 16:23
  • Is the source "Journey to Centauri" episode 17? Commented Jun 27, 2021 at 16:53
  • Yes, that is right. The sci-fi text is “Journey to Cnetauri”. I apologize for making it a bit vague.
    – Artyom
    Commented Jun 28, 2021 at 16:48

3 Answers 3


Merriam-Webster gives the following definition of 'launch'.

1a: to throw forward : HURL. launched an arrow at a target

In your quoted text, Corazon is launching their body, moving quickly like a firework. To launch 'into' a roll, they're pushing off the ground with their feet, and continuing into a second action, the roll itself.

Imagine them running up to speed, pushing forward with their feet, tucking into a roll, and moving down the corridor quickly.

  • 1
    Something like this: youtu.be/E1NY2OH2UhE?t=98 Commented Jun 28, 2021 at 8:27
  • This is most helping. Thank you very much, knol, for making vivid explanation. Thanks, Anthony Grist for making it visually approachable!
    – Artyom
    Commented Jun 28, 2021 at 16:57
  • Anyone who has played through the Witcher series has seen this action MANY times!
    – eps
    Commented Jun 28, 2021 at 16:58

She started rolling. She rolled across the hallway swiftly.

To launch into something means to suddenly start doing it, usually energetically or enthusiastically.

In gymnastics, there is a move called forward roll. This might be what she has done, perhaps several times until she reached the end of the hallway.

  • 2
    Forward rolls are common in martial arts as well. Since the next sentence says "She came up to her feet..." I think its safe to assume she rolled across the hallway, perhaps so she could avoid getting shot or otherwise confuse her opponents.
    – Ron Jensen
    Commented Jun 28, 2021 at 0:55
  • Thank you for clarifying. I did a quick search-through but I didn’t know I should have searched with “into”.
    – Artyom
    Commented Jun 28, 2021 at 16:50

To be clear and flesh it out, "launched into a roll" is not an idiom. "Launched" by itself is somewhat of one. The roll is just a roll.

When we say "launch" we think of a rocket's explosive force quickly blasting off whatever it is. Or maybe a catapult. A salesman might launch into her speech about what a good product this is -- they started talking right away, not giving you a chance to say anything. A cat might launch itself off the dresser and into your lap -- that's faster and further than if they jumped.

Confusingly, we also use "launch" for new ideas, or commercial products, or store openings, but are thinking of a boat. We're "putting it in the water" for the first time to see if it floats or sinks. From context we can usually tell if launch means a rocket or a boat. We could launch into construction (start immediately) to launch (open) a store in December.

Another way to write that phrase would have been: "She quickly dove forward, tucking herself into a ball as she hit the floor, and smoothly turned it into a forward roll. That made her very difficult to shoot at and also, even though it makes no sense, was faster than running".

  • A very interesting and helpful illustration. Thanks!
    – Artyom
    Commented Jun 29, 2021 at 4:21

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