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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.
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
  • What the markets appear to have done in the euro's first five months is to make a parlay backing its descent.
  • Cobb was the first professional athlete to parlay his earnings, modest by contemporary standards, into millions.
  • Other supermodels who became internationally famous have been able to parlay their celebrity into brands.
  • They keep tabs on what is happening on the street, and parlay this information into arrests or more comprehensive investigations.
  • She particularly enjoys greeting the public and hopes to parlay the skills learned into future full time federal employment.
  • parlay the simulation results to design and prepare cost estimates for full-sized plants.
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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