Ponzi scheme

noun

Pon·​zi scheme ˈpän-zē- How to pronounce Ponzi scheme (audio)
: an investment swindle in which some early investors are paid off with money put up by later ones in order to encourage more and bigger risks

Word History

Etymology

Charles Ponzi †1949 American (Italian-born) swindler

First Known Use

1920, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Ponzi scheme was in 1920

Dictionary Entries Near Ponzi scheme

Cite this Entry

“Ponzi scheme.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Ponzi%20scheme. Accessed 1 Feb. 2023.

Legal Definition

Ponzi scheme

noun
Pon·​zi scheme ˈpän-zē-ˌskēm How to pronounce Ponzi scheme (audio)
: an investment swindle in which early investors are paid with sums obtained from later ones in order to create the illusion of profitability

History and Etymology for Ponzi scheme

Charles A. Ponzi (ca. 1882–1949), Italian-born American swindler

More from Merriam-Webster on Ponzi scheme

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