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heads or tails

a gambling game in which a coin is tossed, the winner being the player who guesses which side of the coin will face up when it lands or is caught.
the tossing of a coin in this manner to determine a question or choice.
Origin of heads or tails
1675-85 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for heads or tails
  • For matching pennies you have two pure strategies: play heads or tails.
  • Students will make predictions to figure out the probability of a spun nickel landing on either heads or tails.
  • And the heads or tails of the fish may not be removed in the field or in transit from the field to other locations.
  • The coin will have an equal chance of landing on heads or tails.
  • If a coin is tossed, the sample space is heads or tails.
  • He stated if items are simply being pulled out of an unregulated website he is not certain how to make heads or tails of that.
Idioms and Phrases with heads or tails

heads or tails

An expression used when tossing a coin to decide between two alternatives, as in Let's just flip a coin to decide who pays—do you want heads or tails? Each person involved chooses a different side of the coin, either “heads” or “tails,” and whichever side lands facing up is considered the winner. This usage, dating from the late 1600s, is sometimes turned into Heads I win, tails you lose, meaning “I win no matter what,” which probably originated in an attempt to deceive someone. [ Mid-1800s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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