Ponzi scheme

noun
Pon·​zi scheme | \ ˈpän-zē- How to pronounce Ponzi scheme (audio) \

Definition of Ponzi scheme

: 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

First Known Use of Ponzi scheme

1920, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for Ponzi scheme

Charles Ponzi †1949 American (Italian-born) swindler

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About Ponzi scheme

Time Traveler for Ponzi scheme

Time Traveler

The first known use of Ponzi scheme was in 1920

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near Ponzi scheme

pony up

Ponzi scheme

ponzu

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for Ponzi scheme

Cite this Entry

“Ponzi scheme.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Ponzi%20scheme. Accessed 21 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon
Seen & Heard
People are talking about

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for Ponzi scheme

Ponzi scheme

noun

English Language Learners Definition of Ponzi scheme

Ponzi scheme

noun
Pon·​zi scheme | \ ˈpän-zē-ˌskēm How to pronounce Ponzi scheme (audio) \

Legal Definition of Ponzi scheme

: 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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for Ponzi scheme

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Dog Words Quiz

  • shiba puppy more or less demanding cuddles
  • Which of the following animals has a dog in its etymology?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!