[ pahr-ley, -lee ]
/ ˈpɑr leɪ, -li /
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See synonyms for: parlay / parlayed on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object)
to bet or gamble (an original amount and its winnings) on a subsequent race, contest, etc.
Informal. to use (one's money, talent, or other assets) to achieve a desired objective, as spectacular wealth or success: He parlayed a modest inheritance into a fortune.
a bet of an original sum and the subsequent winnings.
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Origin of parlay

1820–30, Americanism; alteration of earlier paroli<French <Neapolitan Italian, plural of parolo, perhaps derivative of paro equal <Latin pār;see pair
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does parlay mean?

In gambling, to parlay a bet means to “let it ride”—to wager the original amount and any winnings on a subsequent bet. Parlay can also be used as a noun to refer to such a bet.

Sometimes it means something more specific, especially in the context of sports betting: a single wager that depends on the outcome of multiple events, most commonly sports games.

Parlay can also be used in a general way meaning to use a resource, such as money or talent, to achieve an outcome, such as wealth or success.

Example: I always end up trying to parlay my winnings and then losing everything.

Where does parlay come from?

The first records of parlay come from the 1820s. It is an alteration of an earlier term, paroli, which came via French from the Italian parolo, which may be a derivative of the Italian paro, meaning “equal.” It might be derived from the Latin pār, which means “pair” (and is also the basis of the word pair).

Say you win a bet. You could take your winnings and go home. But gamblers like to gamble, so they often parlay their bet—they “let it ride” by betting their original wager and all their winnings (with the obvious goal of winning big). The word is used in many different forms of gambling, but in sports betting it means something more specific. A simple example of a parlay bet would be betting on two separate games with one wager. If both of your chosen teams win, you get a bigger payout than if you had bet on the games separately.

More generally, parlay is used in situations when someone starts with something small and builds into something bigger, especially wealth or success, as in She was able to parlay the small amount of exposure she got from winning the contest into international fame.

Parlay was originally and is still primarily used in the United States. The British equivalent is double up, though that term is used in the U.S. as well. Parlay should not be confused with the term parley, typically meaning “an informal conference” or “to hold such a conference.”

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How is parlay used in real life?

Parlay is most commonly used in the context of gambling, and it is increasingly popular in sports betting.



Try using parlay!

True or False? 

In sports betting, a parlay bet involves wagering on multiple outcomes.

How to use parlay in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for parlay

/ (ˈpɑːlɪ) US and Canadian /

verb (tr)
to stake (winnings from one bet) on a subsequent wagerBrit equivalent: double up
to exploit (one's talent) to achieve worldly success
a bet in which winnings from one wager are staked on another, or a series of such bets

Word Origin for parlay

C19: variant of paroli, via French from Neapolitan Italian parolo, from paro a pair, from Latin pār equal, par
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