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[gam-bit] /ˈgæm bɪt/
Chess. an opening in which a player seeks to obtain some advantage by sacrificing a pawn or piece.
any maneuver by which one seeks to gain an advantage.
a remark made to open or redirect a conversation.
Origin of gambit
1650-60; < French < Spanish gambito or Italian gambetto (akin to Old French gambet, jambet), equivalent to gamb(a) leg + -etta -et
Can be confused
gambit, gamut, gantlet, gauntlet.
2. ploy, stratagem, scheme, ruse. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for gambit
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Is the Knight's gambit recognized now as a permissible opening in chess?

    Frenzied Fiction Stephen Leacock
  • White opens with Queen's pawn to Qu 3, and Black recognizes the gambit.

    Proclaim Liberty! Gilbert Seldes
  • Our hero had first move, and ventured the Evans' gambit, which he lost after seven hours' fighting, and upwards of seventy moves.

  • It was a little conversational flourish, a gambit in the polite game.

    Crome Yellow Aldous Huxley
  • A final game, in which she adopted the Muzio gambit as her opening, was terminated by Elfride's victory at the twelfth move.

    A Pair of Blue Eyes Thomas Hardy
British Dictionary definitions for gambit


(chess) an opening move in which a chessman, usually a pawn, is sacrificed to secure an advantageous position
an opening comment, manoeuvre, etc, intended to secure an advantage or promote a point of view
Word Origin
C17: from French, from Italian gambetto a tripping up, from gamba leg
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for gambit

"chess opening in which a pawn is risked for advantage later," 1650s, gambett, from Italian gambetto, literally "a tripping up" (as a trick in wrestling), from gamba "leg," from Late Latin gamba (see gambol). Applied to chess openings in Spanish in 1561 by Ruy Lopez, who traced it to the Italian word, but the form in Spanish generally was gambito, which led to French gambit, which has influenced the English spelling of the word. Broader sense of "opening move meant to gain advantage" in English is recorded from 1855.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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