[ mahr-tn-geyl ]

  1. Also called standing martingale. part of the tack or harness of a horse, consisting of a strap that fastens to the girth, passes between the forelegs and through a loop in the neckstrap or hame, and fastens to the noseband: used to steady or hold down the horse's head.

  2. Also called running martingale. a similar device that divides at the chest into two branches, each ending in a ring through which the reins pass.

  1. Nautical. a stay for a jib boom or spike bowsprit.

  2. a system of gambling in which the stakes are doubled or otherwise raised after each loss.

Origin of martingale

1580–90; <Middle French: kind of hose fastened at the back, allegedly <Provençal martegalo, feminine of martegal, inhabitant of Martigue, town in SE France, though sense apparently influenced by Spanish almártaga harness <Arabic al-martaʿah the vein

Words Nearby martingale Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use martingale in a sentence

  • She'd swung herself up into the martingale, an' there she'd squatted all the afternoon until we was out o' sight o' land.

    Captain Scraggs | Peter B. Kyne

British Dictionary definitions for martingale


/ (ˈmɑːtɪnˌɡeɪl) /

  1. a strap from the reins to the girth of a horse preventing it from carrying its head too high

  2. any gambling system in which the stakes are raised, usually doubled, after each loss

  1. Also called: martingale boom nautical

    • a chain or cable running from a jib boom to the dolphin striker, serving to counteract strain

    • another term for dolphin striker

Origin of martingale

C16: from French, of uncertain origin

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