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See more synonyms for lottery on Thesaurus.com
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.
  3. any happening or process that is or appears to be determined by chance: to look upon life as a lottery.
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Origin of lottery

First recorded in 1560–70, lottery is from the Middle Dutch word loterie (whence also French loterie). See lot, -ery
Related formsan·ti·lot·ter·y, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

raffle, gambling, sweepstake, chance, lotto

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British Dictionary definitions for lottery


noun plural -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
  3. an activity or endeavour the success of which is regarded as a matter of fate or luck
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Word Origin

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

Word Origin and History for lottery


1560s, "arrangement for a distribution of prizes by chance," from Italian lotteria, from lotto "lot, portion, share," from same root as Old English hlot (see lot). Cf. Middle French loterie, from Middle Dutch loterje, from lot (n.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper