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zero-sum game

noun, Mathematics
a game in which the sum of the winnings and losses of the various players is always zero, the losses being counted negatively.
Origin of zero-sum game
1940-45 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for zero-sum game
  • Tourism is not, and must not be, a zero-sum game where one party wins and the other loses.
  • It is a zero-sum game of a project growing at the expense of another.
  • We have a conflict of interest situation, a zero-sum game where what one wins the other loses.
  • Simply because they interpret political and social life as a zero-sum game: us vs them.
  • Too much is at stake to make this a zero-sum game between the environment and a globally competent citizenry.
  • If life is a zero-sum game, then the concept of fairness is key to successful social groups.
  • But by depicting mergers as a zero-sum game that pits airlines against consumers, the story veers off course.
  • Labour mobility is not a zero-sum game: both senders and recipients win, as new jobs are created.
  • Trade is a non-zero-sum game since seller and buyer can both improve their positions.
  • Malaysians' spirit of give-and-take, he lamented, had been replaced by the idea that progress was a zero-sum game among the races.
British Dictionary definitions for zero-sum game

zero-sum game

(in game theory) a contest in which one person's loss is equal to the other person's gain
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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zero-sum game in Science
zero-sum game  
A game in which the sum of the winnings by all the players is zero. In a zero-sum game, a gain by one player must be matched by a loss by another player. Poker is a zero-sum game if the house does not take a cut as a charge for playing.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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zero-sum game in Culture

zero-sum game definition

A game in which the winnings of some players must equal the losses of the others. Zero-sum games are mentioned in a political context when it is believed that resources are limited, and every decision will produce both winners and losers. In such situations, political decisions will be made on the basis of trade-offs between competing interests.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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