[ lot-uh-ree ]
See synonyms for lottery on
noun,plural lot·ter·ies.
  1. a gambling game or method of raising money, as for some public charitable purpose, in which a large number of tickets are sold and a drawing is held for certain prizes.

  2. any scheme for the distribution of prizes by chance.

  1. any happening or process that is or appears to be determined by chance: to look upon life as a lottery.

Origin of lottery

First recorded in 1560–70, lottery is from the Middle Dutch word loterie (whence also French loterie). See lot, -ery

Other words from lottery

  • an·ti·lot·ter·y, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use lottery in a sentence

  • The General Assembly encouraged the establishment of classical schools and academies via revenue secured from lotteries.

  • And whereas a great deal of money has been thrown about in lotteries, the following proposal would very easily perfect our work.

    An Essay upon Projects | Daniel Defoe
  • Speak of the pleasure-loving character of the people, of horse-races and lotteries, of extravagance in all kinds of sport.

    The Complete Club Book for Women | Caroline French Benton
  • The gamblers might perhaps appeal not only to the practices of their betters in the days of Fox, but to the public lotteries.

  • Martin went out onto the landing-stage, and looked about him as if he also had a stake in this, one of nature's great lotteries.

    The Vultures | Henry Seton Merriman

British Dictionary definitions for lottery


/ (ˈlɒtərɪ) /

nounplural -teries
  1. a method of raising money by selling numbered tickets and giving a proportion of the money raised to holders of numbers drawn at random

  2. a similar method of raising money in which players select a small group of numbers out of a larger group printed on a ticket. If a player's selection matches some or all of the numbers drawn at random the player wins a proportion of the prize fund

  1. an activity or endeavour the success of which is regarded as a matter of fate or luck

Origin of lottery

C16: from Old French loterie, from Middle Dutch loterije. See lot

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