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[pahr-ley, -lee] /ˈpɑr leɪ, -li/
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.
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 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for parlay
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There was no sign of life where parlay's big house perched on the sand.

    A Son Of The Sun Jack London
  • parlay looked at the barometer, giggled, and leered around at his guests.

    A Son Of The Sun Jack London
  • The rest of them followed his example, pausing once to watch one of parlay's shell sheds go down in ruin.

    A Son Of The Sun Jack London
  • The house of parlay was a big two-story frame affair, built of California lumber, with a galvanized iron roof.

    A Son Of The Sun Jack London
  • Others might falter on the way; might palter with the truth; might parlay with the enemy.

British Dictionary definitions for parlay


verb (transitive)
to stake (winnings from one bet) on a subsequent wager Brit 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
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
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Word Origin and History for parlay

1701, parloi, term in the card game faro, from French paroli, from Italian parole (Neapolitan paroli) "words, promises," plural of parolo (see parole). Meaning "exploit to advantage" is from 1942.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for parlay



To build or increase something from a small initial outlay or possession: She parlayed her dimples into movie superstardom

[1942+; fr horse racing, ''place a series of increasing bets,'' found by 1895, fr paralee or parlee, an early 1800s faro term fr Italian parole, ''words, promises'']

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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