zero-sum game

noun Mathematics.
  1. a game in which the sum of the winnings and losses of the various players is always zero, the losses being counted negatively.

Origin of zero-sum game

First recorded in 1940–45
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for zero-sum game

zero-sum game

noun
  1. (in game theory) a contest in which one person's loss is equal to the other person's gain
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

zero-sum game in Science

zero-sum game

  1. A game in which the sum of the winnings by all the players is zero. In a zero-sum game, a gain by one player must be matched by a loss by another player. Poker is a zero-sum game if the house does not take a cut as a charge for playing.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

zero-sum game in Culture

zero-sum game

A game in which the winnings of some players must equal the losses of the others. Zero-sum games are mentioned in a political context when it is believed that resources are limited, and every decision will produce both winners and losers. In such situations, political decisions will be made on the basis of trade-offs between competing interests.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.