verb (used without object), gam·bled, gam·bling.

to play at any game of chance for money or other stakes.
to stake or risk money, or anything of value, on the outcome of something involving chance: to gamble on a toss of the dice.

verb (used with object), gam·bled, gam·bling.


any matter or thing involving risk or hazardous uncertainty.
a venture in a game of chance for stakes, especially for high stakes.

Origin of gamble

1150–1200; Middle English gamenen to play (Old English gamenian), with substitution of -le for -en; see game1
Related formsgam·bler, nounan·ti·gam·bling, adjectivenon·gam·bler, nounout·gam·ble, verb (used with object), out·gam·bled, out·gam·bling.o·ver·gam·ble, verb (used with object), o·ver·gam·bled, o·ver·gam··gam·bling, adjectivere·gam·ble, verb, re·gam·bled, re·gam·bling.un·gam·bled, adjectiveun·gam·bling, adjective
Can be confusedgamble gambol

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

Examples from the Web for gamble

Contemporary Examples of gamble

Historical Examples of gamble

  • He wouldn't stay a day longer than he had to, thought you could gamble on that.

  • Nevertheless, Mr. Jannissary was prepared to gamble on John's future.

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

  • You have come to gamble, and your gambling is attended by every form of intemperance and immorality.

    The Christian

    Hall Caine

  • All these engineers and officers of ships took tickets in that gamble.

    End of the Tether

    Joseph Conrad

  • He loves a gamble, and is most amusing when he is in the mood.

    A Bride of the Plains

    Baroness Emmuska Orczy

British Dictionary definitions for gamble



(intr) to play games of chance to win money
to risk or bet (money) on the outcome of an event, sport, etc
(intr often foll by on) to act with the expectation ofto gamble on its being a sunny day
(often foll by away) to lose by or as if by betting; squander


a risky act or venture
a bet, wager, or other risk or chance taken for possible monetary gain
Derived Formsgambler, noungambling, noun

Word Origin for gamble

C18: probably variant of game 1
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 gamble

1726 (implied in gambling), from a dialectal survival of Middle English gammlen, variant of gamenen "to play, jest, be merry," from Old English gamenian "to play, joke, pun," from gamen (see game). Or possibly gamble is from a derivative of gamel "to play games" (1590s), itself likely a frequentative from game. Originally regarded as a slang word. The intrusive -b- may be from confusion with gambol. Related: Gambled; gambling.


"risky venture," 1823, from gamble (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper