-rigged


adjective

(in combination) (of a sailing vessel) having a rig of a certain kindketch-rigged; schooner-rigged

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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

VOCAB BUILDER

What does rigged mean?

When something is rigged, it has been fraudulently manipulated by someone to get their desired outcome (e.g., the game was rigged in favor of the home team).

How is rigged pronounced?

[ rigd ]

Where does rigged come from?

Rigged has nothing to do with the rigging on boats or big rigs on the highway. This rigged, dated in this form in the mid-1800s, is unrelated and its origins are obscure.

In the late 1700s, lexicographer Francis Grose defined a rig as “fun, game, diversion, or trick,” which was extended to “to deceive.” This rig may come from thimblerig, an early version of the shell game con.

In the 1800s, rigging specifically referred to stock fraud (e.g., a rigged stock). In the 1900s, rigged was especially used to talk about sporting matches (like the 1919 World Series) whose winner was fixed in advance, usually by players getting money to lose on purpose.

In the 2000s, rigged was increasingly used of political or social systems. Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders notably campaigned on repairing a rigged economy in favor of the rich while Donald Trump thundered on about the election being rigged in favor of Hillary Clinton.

How is rigged used in real life?

Calling something rigged is often used in everyday speech or writing by people who think an outcome has been fixed ahead of time so they lose.

As noted, sports matches are often discussed as rigged, such as the 2006 Italian football scandal. This involved teams and referees fixing matches for financial gain (gain for the deliberate losers that is).

Rigged, as also noted, came into the spotlight during the U.S. presidential election, a favorite claim of Donald Trump, who lied that the election was rigged so Clinton would win. Many now believe, ironically enough, that the election was in fact rigged, with Russian meddling helping Trump win.

More examples of rigged:

“How an Ex-Cop Rigged McDonald’s Monopoly Game and Stole Millions”
—Jeff Maysh, The Daily Beast (headline), July 2018

Note

This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.