noun, often attributive \ˈlä-tə-rē also ˈlä-trē\

: a way of raising money for a government, charity, etc., in which many tickets are sold and a few of the tickets are chosen by chance to win prizes

: a system used to decide who will get or be given something by choosing names or numbers by chance

: an event or situation in which what happens is decided by luck or chance

plural lot·ter·ies

Full Definition of LOTTERY

a :  a drawing of lots in which prizes are distributed to the winners among persons buying a chance
b :  a drawing of lots used to decide something
:  an event or affair whose outcome is or seems to be determined by chance

Examples of LOTTERY

  1. They held a lottery to determine who could get a green card.
  2. Room assignments are determined by lottery.
  3. Life's a lottery, isn't it? It all depends on luck.

Origin of LOTTERY

Middle French loterie, from Middle Dutch, from lot lot; akin to Old English hlot lot
First Known Use: 1567

Rhymes with LOTTERY


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Drawing of lots in which prizes are distributed to the winners among persons buying a chance. A form of gambling, lottery in its modern form may be traced to 15th-century Europe. The Continental Congress in 1776 voted to establish a lottery to raise funds for the American Revolution. By the mid-19th century, in the wake of abuses by private organizers, U.S. states began passing antilottery laws. An 1878 Supreme Court opinion held that lotteries had “a demoralizing influence upon the people,” and by the 1890s most had been eliminated. A revival began in the mid-1960s; many state governments seeking revenues instituted officially sanctioned, independently audited lotteries. In most such operations, the bettor buys a numbered receipt or writes down his or her number choices, a drawing is held, and the winners identify themselves. The value of the prizes is the amount remaining after expenses and the state's share are deducted from the pool. Winnings are usually subject to taxes. The top prize can grow into the tens of millions, usually causing a buying frenzy as it increases, but the odds against winning remain astronomical.


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