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[gam-bling] /ˈgæm blɪŋ/
the activity or practice of playing at a game of chance for money or other stakes.
the act or practice of risking the loss of something important by taking a chance or acting recklessly:
If you don't back up your data, that's gambling.
Origin of gambling


[gam-buh l] /ˈgæm bəl/
verb (used without object), gambled, gambling.
to play at any game of chance for money or other stakes.
to stake or risk money, or anything of value, on the outcome of something involving chance:
to gamble on a toss of the dice.
verb (used with object), gambled, gambling.
to lose or squander by betting (usually followed by away):
He gambled all his hard-earned money away in one night.
to wager or risk (money or something else of value):
to gamble one's freedom.
to take a chance on; venture; risk:
I'm gambling that our new store will be a success.
any matter or thing involving risk or hazardous uncertainty.
a venture in a game of chance for stakes, especially for high stakes.
1150-1200; Middle English gamenen to play (Old English gamenian), with substitution of -le for -en; see game1
Related forms
gambler, noun
antigambling, adjective
nongambler, noun
outgamble, verb (used with object), outgambled, outgambling.
overgamble, verb (used with object), overgambled, overgambling.
progambling, adjective
regamble, verb, regambled, regambling.
ungambled, adjective
ungambling, adjective
Can be confused
gamble, gambol.
6. venture, hazard, speculation, flyer. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for gambling
  • Debts contracted by betting, gambling, or verbal promise.
  • But when they got there, their intentions turned to drugs, alcohol and gambling.
  • In it centres the real life of the colony its gambling news.
  • Raving the rule of the gambling school, mixing it up with a prayer.
  • What the city had provided was a course in scientific gambling with the policeman to see that it was done right.
  • He dignifies his calling with the pretence of gambling.
  • He used to be always gambling and card-playing and drinking, but his father never minded his bad habits, and never punished him.
  • It taught him gambling as its first lesson, and stealing as the next.
  • Robberies are a natural consequence of universal gambling, much drinking, and extreme indolence.
  • Where conservation efforts are gaining ground, they're often funded by cash from gambling and other enterprises.
British Dictionary definitions for gambling


(intransitive) to play games of chance to win money
to risk or bet (money) on the outcome of an event, sport, etc
(intransitive) often foll by on. to act with the expectation of: to gamble on its being a sunny day
(often foll by away) to lose by or as if by betting; squander
a risky act or venture
a bet, wager, or other risk or chance taken for possible monetary gain
Derived Forms
gambler, noun
gambling, noun
Word Origin
C18: probably variant of game1
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
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Word Origin and History for gambling



1726 (implied in gambling), from a dialectal survival of Middle English gammlen, variant of gamenen "to play, jest, be merry," from Old English gamenian "to play, joke, pun," from gamen (see game). Or possibly gamble is from a derivative of gamel "to play games" (1590s), itself likely a frequentative from game. Originally regarded as a slang word. The intrusive -b- may be from confusion with gambol. Related: Gambled; gambling.


"risky venture," 1823, from gamble (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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