Meaning of GAMBLE in English


I. gam ‧ ble 1 /ˈɡæmb ə l/ BrE AmE verb [intransitive and transitive]

[ Date: 1700-1800 ; Origin: game ]

1 . to risk money or possessions on the result of something such as a card game or a race, when you do not know for certain what the result will be ⇨ bet :

Their religion forbids them to drink or gamble.

gamble on

Jack loves gambling on the horses.

2 . to do something that involves a lot of risk, and that will not succeed unless things happen the way you would like them to

gamble on

They’re gambling on Johnson being fit for Saturday’s game.

gamble something on something

Potter gambled everything on his new play being a hit.

gamble that

She was gambling that he wouldn’t read it too carefully.

gamble with

We can’t relax our safety standards – we’d be gambling with people’s lives.

—gambler noun [countable] :

Stevens was a compulsive gambler.

• • •


▪ gamble to try to win money, for example by playing cards or guessing which horse will win a race:

Eddie loved to gamble, and would spend most evenings at the roulette table.


A growing number of people are gambling online.

▪ bet/have a bet to try to win money by guessing who will win a race or game:

He liked to smoke, drink, and bet on horses.


Jerry bet $1000 on the game.


We had a bet on the Irish team to win.

▪ put £10/$20 etc on something to gamble £10, $20 etc on the horse or team that you think will win a race or competition:

I put $100 on the Cowboys to win.

▪ have a flutter British English informal to gamble a small amount of money, especially on the result of a horse race. Used especially when someone does not gamble very often:

I’m not a heavy gambler, but I like to have a flutter from time to time.


I had a little flutter on the Grand National and won £5.

▪ play for money to gamble money on the result of a game which you are playing:

‘Are we playing for money here, gentlemen?’ he said as he approached the pool table.


You’re allowed to play cards in the bar, but not for money.

▪ back to gamble money on a particular horse, team etc that you think will win a race or competition:

When I back a horse, it always seems to finish second.

gamble something ↔ away phrasal verb

to lose the whole of an amount of money by gambling:

Nielsen gambled his inheritance away.

II. gamble 2 BrE AmE noun [singular]

an action or plan that involves a risk but that you hope will succeed:

It was a big gamble for her to leave the band and go solo.

gamble on

The gamble on the harvest had paid off (=succeeded) .

Ellen had to admit the gamble had paid off (=succeeded) .

In a depressed market, we cannot afford to take a gamble on a new product.

• • •


■ verbs

▪ take a gamble

The publishers took a gamble on an unknown author, and the books have sold well.

▪ a gamble pays off (=succeeds)

She gave up a career in law to become an actor, but the gamble has paid off.

■ adjectives

▪ a big gamble

It's a big gamble for any presenter to leave such a successful show.

▪ a huge gamble

Giving him the job seemed like a huge gamble at the time.

▪ a calculated gamble (=one in which you consider the risks very carefully)

He made a calculated gamble that an early election would return his party to power.

▪ a desperate gamble

The parents took a desperate gamble by throwing their baby out of the burning building.

▪ a political gamble

His determination to go ahead with the plan, despite the unrest, was a huge political gamble.

■ phrases

▪ be a bit of a gamble (=involve a small amount of risk)

It was a bit of a gamble putting him on the field, but he played well.

▪ be something of a gamble (=involve an amount of risk)

A few years ago, launching a weekly magazine for men would have been something of a gamble.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.