die game,
    1. to die after a brave struggle.
    2. to remain steadfast or in good spirits at the moment of defeat: He knew that as a candidate he didn't have a chance in the world, but he campaigned anyway and died game.
    make game of, to make fun of; ridicule: to make game of the weak and defenseless.
    off (or on) one’s game,
    1. Sports.playing very badly (or very well).
    2. not functioning (or functioning) at one’s usual level: She’s been off her game since she came back from vacation.
    play games, to act in an evasive, deceitful, manipulative, or trifling manner in dealing with others: Don't play games with me—I want to know if you love me or not!
    play the game, Informal.
    1. to act or play in accordance with the rules.
    2. to act honorably or justly: We naively assumed that our allies would continue to play the game.

Origin of game

before 1000; Middle English gamen, Old English gaman; cognate with Old High German gaman glee
Related formsgame·less, adjectivegame·like, adjectivegame·ness, nounun·game·like, adjective

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

Examples from the Web for gameness

Historical Examples of gameness

  • Whatever else might be said of the man he was game, and now his gameness showed.

  • We were both excited and thrilled with the gameness of this fish.

  • The hands were kept from their work, attracted by the gameness of the cocks.

  • But 167 he had that gameness which goes with supreme confidence in the thing dealt with.

    The Brown Mouse

    Herbert Quick

  • He was not used to dealing with men of any age so utterly lacking in gameness.

    The Making of Bobby Burnit

    George Randolph Chester

British Dictionary definitions for gameness



courage or bravery; pluck




an amusement or pastime; diversion
a contest with rules, the result being determined by skill, strength, or chance
a single period of play in such a contest, sport, etc
the score needed to win a contest
a single contest in a series; match
(plural; often capital) an event consisting of various sporting contests, esp in athleticsOlympic Games; Highland Games
equipment needed for playing certain games
short for computer game
style or ability in playing a gamehe is a keen player but his game is not good
a scheme, proceeding, etc, practised like a gamethe game of politics
an activity undertaken in a spirit of levity; jokemarriage is just a game to him
  1. wild animals, including birds and fish, hunted for sport, food, or profit
  2. (as modifier)game laws
the flesh of such animals, used as food: generally taken not to include fish
an object of pursuit; quarry; prey (esp in the phrase fair game)
informal work or occupation
informal a trick, strategy, or deviceI can see through your little game
obsolete pluck or courage; bravery
slang, mainly British prostitution (esp in the phrase on the game)
give the game away to reveal one's intentions or a secret
make game of or make a game of to make fun of; ridicule; mock
off one's game playing badly
on one's game playing well
play the game to behave fairly or in accordance with rules
the game is up there is no longer a chance of success


informal full of fighting spirit; plucky; brave
game as Ned Kelly or as game as Ned Kelly Australian informal extremely brave; indomitable
(usually foll by for) informal prepared or ready; willingI'm game for a try


(intr) to play games of chance for money, stakes, etc; gamble
Derived Formsgamelike, adjective

Word Origin for game

Old English gamen; related to Old Norse gaman, Old High German gaman amusement




a less common word for lame 1 game leg

Word Origin for game

C18: probably from Irish cam crooked
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 gameness



Old English gamen "game, joy, fun, amusement," common Germanic (cf. Old Frisian game "joy, glee," Old Norse gaman, Old Saxon, Old High German gaman "sport, merriment," Danish gamen, Swedish gamman "merriment"), regarded as identical with Gothic gaman "participation, communion," from Proto-Germanic *ga- collective prefix + *mann "person," giving a sense of "people together."

Meaning "contest played according to rules" is first attested c.1300. Sense of "wild animals caught for sport" is late 13c.; hence fair game (1825), also gamey. Game plan is 1941, from U.S. football; game show first attested 1961.



"lame," 1787, from north Midlands dialect, of unknown origin, perhaps a variant of gammy (tramps' slang) "bad," or from Old North French gambe "leg" (see gambol (n.)).



"brave, spirited," 1725, especially in game-cock "bird for fighting," from game (n.). Middle English had gamesome (adj.) "joyful, playful, sportive."



Old English gamenian "to play, jest, joke;" see game (n.). Modern usages probably represent recent formations from the noun. Related: Gamed; gaming.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with gameness


In addition to the idioms beginning with game

  • game is not worth the candle, the
  • game is up, the
  • game that two can play, that's a

also see:

  • ahead of the game
  • at this stage (of the game)
  • badger game
  • beat someone at his or her own game
  • call someone's bluff (game)
  • confidence game
  • end game
  • fair game
  • fun and games

give away (the game)losing battle (game)name of the gameonly game in townplay a waiting gameplay gamesplay the gamewaiting gamewhole new ball game.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.