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 confusedgambit gamut gantlet gauntlet

Synonyms for gambit Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for gambit

maneuver, play, jig, ploy, ruse, trick, design, artifice, device, gimmick

Examples from the Web for gambit

Contemporary Examples of gambit

Historical Examples of gambit

  • The Widow's gambit was played, and she had not won the game.

    Elsie Venner

    Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

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

    Proclaim Liberty!

    Gilbert Seldes

  • This is one of the oldest systems of defence against the Queen's Gambit.

    Chess Fundamentals

    Jos Ral Capablanca

  • The idea was more than just a gambit to attract Ashe's attention, it was true!

    Key Out of Time

    Andre Alice Norton

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

    Crome Yellow

    Aldous Huxley

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 for gambit

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

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