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I wrote a post the other day talking about carrying on luggage and referred to a hard-shelled carryon suitcase with wheels as a “rollerboard”. One of the comments corrected me and said that it was “rollaboard”. Being nothing if not pedantic, I thought I would take a look at whether it’s rollaboard or roller board and try to settle the rollaboard vs. roller board debate, once and for all

a group of luggage on top of each other

Rollaboard vs. Roller board

I was actually a bit surprised to see that the commenter was correct and I was wrong (I’m not often wrong on this kind of pedantry!). Rollerboard is not correct, and the correct term for a carryon suitcase is a rollaboard. I suppose that this makes some sense, since you ROLL it ABOARD an airplane? So if you are wondering whether it’s rollerboard or rollaboard, now you know – rollaboard is correct. If you hear someone talking about their roller board or rollerboard suitcase, you can be “that guy” and casually correct them 🙂

Rollaboard Trademarked

I also found out that the term “Rollaboard” was actually trademarked by the Travelpro company back in 1991, so in some cases, you might not be able to accurately call a similar piece of carryon luggage from another company a “rollaboard”. Just like a “Kleenex” is a specific brand of facial tissue, even though in many of these cases, the brand name has become fairly common in everyday speech. Interestingly, “rollerboard” is also trademarked, but by a skateboard company. Which just gives even more credence to the fact that rollerboard is incorrect and rollaboard is correct for a piece of carryon luggage with wheels.

Rollaboard vs. Roll-aboard vs. Roll aboard

Okay, so now that we’ve determined that rollerboard is not correct (unless you’re talking about skateboards), then we need to turn our attention to the punctuation of the word (or phrase?). According to some lexicographers that I’ve seen, you can use rollaboard or roll-aboard or roll aboard interchangeably. Personally, I think that the hyphenated version (roll-aboard) makes the most sense to me, but I could accept arguments for all three of the versions.

The Bottom Line

If you have a carryon suitcase with wheels, don’t you dare call it a rollerboard. After all, the word rollerboard doesn’t even make sense. I suppose it could have entered the English lexicon as a way to get around the trademark of the word rollaboard? In any case, if you’re deciding between rollaboard vs. rollerboard, just know that rollaboard is the correct term – and you’re fine calling it a rollaboard, roll aboard or roll-aboard. Just make sure you get to the gate on time!

What’s your take? Rollaboard vs. Rollerboard? Or do you prefer roll-aboard? Leave your thoughts in the comments below

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