gam·bit | \ ˈgam-bət \

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

Both these efforts plus the new tariffs target Made in China 2025, Beijing’s strategic gambit to upgrade Chinese manufacturing from cheap and cheerful to innovative and high-tech. Charlie Cambell/beijing, Time, "Lei Jun Wants to Be China’s Answer to Steve Jobs. But Trump’s Trade War Is Getting In His Way," 12 July 2018 But the oil companies’ gambit succeeded on Monday, when Alsup ruled to dismiss the case. Rachel Becker, The Verge, "Oil companies can’t be sued for climate change even though it’s real, judge rules," 26 June 2018 When no obvious change came of that gambit, Steyer, according to Forbes, stepped onto the airwaves, filming his first direct-to-camera appeal for impeachment while urging citizens to sign his petition outlining the need for Trump’s ouster. Gabriel Debenedetti, Daily Intelligencer, "Mega-Donor Tom Steyer Is Forcing Democrats to Talk Impeachment. Is It a Losing Strategy?," 25 May 2018 As for forcing a vote on Pelosi, The Post's Dave Weigel runs down why that gambit makes no sense. Tory Newmyer, Washington Post, "The Finance 202: Trump backers fear he's deserting them on China," 22 May 2018 Juventus’s gambit is that many of those fans will follow him to his new club. Rory Smith, New York Times, "Ronaldo Leaves Real Madrid to Join Juventus," 10 July 2018 At first, Beijing was alarmed by Kim’s gambit for a summit. Don Lee,, "What China wants from a U.S.-North Korea summit — and why it makes Trump nervous," 4 June 2018 Wall Street hasn’t been able to figure out whether Apple CEO Tim Cook’s gambit to sell higher priced iPhones is working. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "How Can Apple Keep Growing If Its Current Growth Depends on iPhone Price Hikes?," 1 May 2018 From President Trump to Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, policymakers recently have sounded off against these deals and may train their fire soon on T-Mobile and Sprint’s latest gambit., "Sprint and T-Mobile agree to merge, in bid to remake wireless market," 30 Apr. 2018

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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Phrases Related to gambit

opening gambit

Statistics for gambit

Last Updated

21 Sep 2018

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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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