noun, plural lotteries.
a gambling game or method of raising money, as for some public charitable purpose, in which a large number of tickets are sold and a drawing is held for certain prizes.
any scheme for the distribution of prizes by chance.
any happening or process that is or appears to be determined by chance: to look upon life as a lottery.

1560–70; < Middle Dutch loterie (whence also French loterie). See lot, -ery

antilottery, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
lottery (ˈlɒtərɪ)
n , pl -teries
1.  a method of raising money by selling numbered tickets and giving a proportion of the money raised to holders of numbers drawn at random
2.  a similar method of raising money in which players select a small group of numbers out of a larger group printed on a ticket. If a player's selection matches some or all of the numbers drawn at random the player wins a proportion of the prize fund
3.  an activity or endeavour the success of which is regarded as a matter of fate or luck
[C16: from Old French loterie, from Middle Dutch loterije. See lot]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

1560s, "arrangement for a distribution of prizes by chance," from It. lotteria, from same root as O.E. hlot (see lot).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
The world is a lottery wherein one must expect to meet with many unlucky
Policy is a kind of penny lottery, with alleged daily drawings which never take
There are other possible payoffs in the marine toxin lottery.
The state has used lottery money to help preserve its habitat.
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