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 Apple's gambit comes amid the epic volatility that rocked the stock market. Alexander Coolidge, The Enquirer, "Now that Apple is splitting its stock, will P&G follow?," 4 Aug. 2020 The result, less than two hours before an October 2016 debate against Hillary Clinton in St. Louis, was a gambit so secretive that several concerned parties were left in the dark. Matt Flegenheimer, New York Times, "What Donald Trump’s ‘Access Hollywood’ Weekend Says About 2020," 11 July 2020 Athleisure firm Lululemon is wading into the digital health space—with a pretty sizable gambit. Sy Mukherjee, Fortune, "Reinventing the hospital for the modern, inequtiable era," 1 July 2020 Even with the fate of live performance in limbo due to covid-19, the gambit carries some risks: Will lowering the barriers lessen its cachet? Peter Marks, Washington Post, "As ‘Hamilton’ becomes a movie, suddenly we’re all in the room where it happens," 26 June 2020 Trump's gambit poses an interesting challenge for Biden. Stephen Collinson With Caitlin Hu And Vedika Sud, CNN, "Presidential debates and Modi's China challenge," 23 June 2020 The legal gambit has become an annual event, according to a report in The Orlando Sentinel, and the company recently won a victory reducing the taxes the county wanted to collect on one of its hotels. ... Spencer Jakab, WSJ, "This Mouse House Is Undervalued, Says Appraiser," 17 June 2020 On the chess board of international strategy, could President Trump now be attempting a reverse Nixon gambit? Ned Temko, The Christian Science Monitor, "Resetting the Russia relationship: A China play, too?," 15 June 2020 The board is expected to submit its own tax-reform proposal for the ballot on Tuesday, which will likely include the supervisors’ opening gambit around the pace and size of the tax increase. Dominic Fracassa,, "SF Mayor Breed, supervisors seek new business tax structure to bolster city’s revenues," 15 June 2020

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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Time Traveler for gambit

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The first known use of gambit was in 1656

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Last Updated

7 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Gambit.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for gambit


How to pronounce gambit (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gambit

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gambit

Spanish Central: Translation of gambit

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

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