Try Our Apps


90s Slang You Should Know


[mahr-tn-geyl] /ˈmɑr tnˌgeɪl/
Also called standing martingale. part of the tack or harness of a horse, consisting of a strap that fastens to the girth, passes between the forelegs and through a loop in the neckstrap or hame, and fastens to the noseband: used to steady or hold down the horse's head.
Also called running martingale. a similar device that divides at the chest into two branches, each ending in a ring through which the reins pass.
Nautical. a stay for a jib boom or spike bowsprit.
a system of gambling in which the stakes are doubled or otherwise raised after each loss.
Origin of martingale
1580-90; < Middle French: kind of hose fastened at the back, allegedly < Provençal martegalo, feminine of martegal, inhabitant of Martigue, town in SE France, though sense apparently influenced by Spanish almártaga harness < Arabic al-martaʿah the vein Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for martingale
Historical Examples
  • Major martingale's voice sounded as if it were made from the best adamant and was warranted to withstand any pressure.

    Rebecca's Promise Frances R. Sterrett
  • Their bridle has but a simple snaffle-bit, and no martingale.

    The Prairie Traveler Randolph Marcy
  • A similar contrivance adapted to a martingale to support the jib-boom in that particular part where the jib-tack is fixed.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • The gaub lines or back ropes go from the martingale in-board.

    The Seaman's Friend Richard Henry Dana
  • Even old Major martingale was there eating hot buttered toast, but I can't make one of them say that he gave me that clover leaf.

    Rebecca's Promise Frances R. Sterrett
  • Major martingale tugged at his mustache and looked at her in surprise.

    Rebecca's Promise Frances R. Sterrett
  • This, if not a guarantee for their future happiness, is still the best "martingale" the game of marriage admits of.

  • Major martingale was glad that she was beginning to understand.

    Rebecca's Promise Frances R. Sterrett
  • Action followed thought, and I ordered the second mate and the crew forward to see what could be done with the martingale guy.

    The Flying Bo'sun Arthur Mason
  • It came from the right, from the room Major martingale used as an office.

    Rebecca's Promise Frances R. Sterrett
British Dictionary definitions for martingale


a strap from the reins to the girth of a horse preventing it from carrying its head too high
any gambling system in which the stakes are raised, usually doubled, after each loss
(nautical) Also called martingale boom
  1. a chain or cable running from a jib boom to the dolphin striker, serving to counteract strain
  2. another term for dolphin striker
Word Origin
C16: from French, of uncertain origin
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for martingale

1580s, from Middle French martingale (16c.), of uncertain origin, perhaps from Old Provençal martegalo, fem. of martegal "inhabitant of Martigue," making the etymological sense "worn in the manner of the people of Martigue;" or perhaps from Spanish almartaga, word for a sort of halter or rein, from Arabic almartak, in which case it might have been influenced in form by the Provençal word.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for martingale

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for martingale

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for martingale