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[sweep-steyks] /ˈswipˌsteɪks/
noun, (used with a singular or plural verb)
a race or other contest for which the prize consists of the stakes contributed by the various competitors.
the prize itself.
a lottery in which winning tickets are selected at random, each winning-ticket number then being matched to one of the horses nominated for or entered in a specific race, and the amounts paid the winners being determined by the finishing order of the horses that run.
lottery (def 2).
any gambling transaction in which each of a number of persons contributes a stake, and the stakes are awarded to one or several winners.
a risky venture that promises large rewards:
the high-tech sweepstakes.
Origin of sweepstakes
1485-95; earlier swepestake orig., a person who won all the stakes in a game; see sweep1, stake2, -s3


[sweep-steyk] /ˈswipˌsteɪk/
a sweepstakes. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for sweepstakes
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Won the Brighton Beach overnight sweepstakes in nineteen an' four.

    Garrison's Finish W. B. M. Ferguson
  • Sysonby himself won the Brighton sweepstakes in nineteen-four.

    Garrison's Finish W. B. M. Ferguson
  • He only wished that the work was done, and that he was well out to sea with the sweepstakes.

    No Moss Harry Castlemon
  • She was still lying at the upper end of the breakers, waiting for the sweepstakes.

    No Moss Harry Castlemon
  • Harry understood from this that the sweepstakes had again escaped.

    No Moss Harry Castlemon
British Dictionary definitions for sweepstakes


  1. a lottery in which the stakes of the participants constitute the prize
  2. the prize itself
any event involving a lottery, esp a horse race in which the prize is the competitors' stakes
Often shortened to sweep
Word Origin
C15: originally referring to someone who sweeps or takes all the stakes in a game
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 sweepstakes

"prize won in a race or contest," 1773, from Middle English swepestake "one who sweeps or wins all the stakes in a game" (late 15c., as the name of one of the King's ships), from swepen "sweep" (see sweep (v.)) + stake (n.2).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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