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See more synonyms for gambling on Thesaurus.com
  1. the activity or practice of playing at a game of chance for money or other stakes.
  2. the act or practice of risking the loss of something important by taking a chance or acting recklessly: If you don't back up your data, that's gambling.
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Origin of gambling


verb (used without object), gam·bled, gam·bling.
  1. to play at any game of chance for money or other stakes.
  2. to stake or risk money, or anything of value, on the outcome of something involving chance: to gamble on a toss of the dice.
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verb (used with object), gam·bled, gam·bling.
  1. to lose or squander by betting (usually followed by away): He gambled all his hard-earned money away in one night.
  2. to wager or risk (money or something else of value): to gamble one's freedom.
  3. to take a chance on; venture; risk: I'm gambling that our new store will be a success.
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  1. any matter or thing involving risk or hazardous uncertainty.
  2. a venture in a game of chance for stakes, especially for high stakes.
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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·bling.pro·gam·bling, adjectivere·gam·ble, verb, re·gam·bled, re·gam·bling.un·gam·bled, adjectiveun·gam·bling, adjective
Can be confusedgamble gambol


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

action, speculation, gaming

Examples from the Web for gambling

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • It's Bill that's spent the money on his cussed booze and gambling.

  • The gambling houses can do it, and so keep on breaking the law.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • My brother should have supported them, but all his money went on the race course, gambling.


    W. A. Fraser

  • This modified form of gambling is especially dangerous to the young.

    In the Heart of Vosges

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

  • There was only one passion which he did not conceal—the passion for gambling.

    A Hero of Our Time

    M. Y. Lermontov

British Dictionary definitions for gambling


  1. (intr) to play games of chance to win money
  2. to risk or bet (money) on the outcome of an event, sport, etc
  3. (intr often foll by on) to act with the expectation ofto gamble on its being a sunny day
  4. (often foll by away) to lose by or as if by betting; squander
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  1. a risky act or venture
  2. a bet, wager, or other risk or chance taken for possible monetary gain
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Derived Formsgambler, noungambling, noun

Word Origin

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 gambling



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.

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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper