gam·​bit | \ ˈgam-bət How to pronounce gambit (audio) \

Definition of gambit

1 : a chess opening in which a player risks one or more pawns or a minor piece to gain an advantage in position
2a(1) : a remark intended to start a conversation or make a telling point
(2) : topic
b : a calculated move : stratagem

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Did You Know?

In 1656, a chess handbook was published that was said to have almost a hundred illustrated "gambetts." That early spelling of "gambit" is close to the Italian word, gambetto, from which it is derived. "Gambetto" was used for an act of tripping-especially one that gave an advantage, as in wrestling. The original chess gambit is an opening in which a bishop's pawn is sacrificed to gain some advantage, but the name is now applied to many other chess openings. After being pinned down to chess for about two centuries, "gambit" finally broke free of the hold and showed itself to be a legitimate contender in the English language by weighing in with other meanings.

Examples of gambit in a Sentence

I couldn't tell whether her earlier poor-mouthing had been sincere or just a gambit to get me to pick up the dinner check.

Recent Examples on the Web

His latest gambit was to threaten Mexico with import tariffs unless the country did more to stop asylum-seekers from Central America from reaching the United States. Heather Timmons, Quartz, "The Mexico deal is a triumph of Trump’s “speak loudly, carry tiny stick” diplomacy," 11 June 2019 But Western Stars is without question a grower, and most of its musical and narrative gambits pay off. Dan Deluca,, "Bruce Springsteen tries out a new sound, under the ‘Western Stars’," 6 June 2019 Despite Perry’s Facebook message, her gambit paid off when a casting agent called her and she was granted an audition for a pilot show Perry is working on. Alexia Fernandez,, "Tyler Perry Begs Actors to Stop Buying Billboards to Get His Attention: 'Please Stop'," 5 June 2019 Ultimately it’s consumers who will determine whether Facebook’s grand gambit will succeed or fail, with the most important test of Libra likely being convenience. Jeff John Roberts, Fortune, "Facebook Announces Project Libra, Its Wildly Ambitious Plan to Bring Cryptocurrency to the Masses," 18 June 2019 The first Guide Michelin was published, in France, in 1900, by the tire company of the same name, as a gambit intended to boost interest in the automobile, a fledgling invention at the time. Helen Rosner, The New Yorker, "The Michelin Guide’s Not Entirely Welcome Return to L.A.," 5 June 2019 Other commentators see Moscow’s gambit, born of opportunism and executed ruthlessly, as a masterstroke. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "Russia stays in the driver’s seat in Syria," 10 July 2018 Britain sees this as a protectionist gambit to win contracts from British firms (see article). The Economist, "Britain’s space industry, Brexit’s final frontier," 3 May 2018 The video-game giant’s other big gambit is a Detective Pikachu movie starring Ryan Reynolds as a wisecracking and live-action incarnation of the character. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Koché’s Pokémon Collaboration Is Tokyo Fashion Week’s Cutest Development," 21 Mar. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gambit.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of gambit

1656, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for gambit

borrowed from Spanish gambito, borrowed from Italian gambetto, literally, "act of tripping someone," from gamba "leg" (going back to Late Latin) + -etto, diminutive suffix — more at jamb

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Last Updated

13 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for gambit

The first known use of gambit was in 1656

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More Definitions for gambit



English Language Learners Definition of gambit

: a planned series of moves at the beginning of a game of chess
: something done or said in order to gain an advantage or to produce a desired result

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More from Merriam-Webster on gambit

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gambit

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gambit

Spanish Central: Translation of gambit

Nglish: Translation of gambit for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about gambit

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characterized by aphorism

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