gambit

noun
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

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, which is from gamba, meaning "leg," 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 years, 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 gambit is part of an evolving intra-Shiite rivalry in the country that threatens to destabilize a frail state even further and complicates the equation for Iran’s theocratic regime, which has long exercised influence over Baghdad. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 31 Aug. 2022 Its film-within-a-film, bump-and-grindhouse gambit doubled the exploitation fun while subverting norms of female sexuality, upending the male gaze and resurrecting that most lurid throwback, the deranged nymphomaniacal hag. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 3 Sep. 2022 The gambit worked; ESPN reported on just how obsessed the 2015 Yankees squad was with the little fruit candies. Amanda Mull, The Atlantic, 31 Aug. 2022 His gambit has been to side with Trump, pegging the committee as a liberal political stunt instead of a legitimate inquiry. Grace Segers, The New Republic, 11 Aug. 2022 Their gambit paid off: Casper raked in $1 million in its first month of business and more than $100 million in its first full year, The Post reported. Jonathan Edwards, Washington Post, 9 Aug. 2022 Now, Democrats will see whether their high-stakes gambit to take out Rep. Peter Meijer will win them the seat in November. Patrick Marley, Anchorage Daily News, 4 Aug. 2022 That’s not the case here, although Yagi’s gambit is seductive enough to prop up a more ordinary book: a woman in her mid-thirties, sick of being treated like dirt at her office job, pretends to be pregnant. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, 8 Aug. 2022 The solution: two completely distinct albums, released in quick succession, in the kind of twofer gambit that hasn’t been done much since the days when Bruce Springsteen or Guns N’ Roses would experimentally drop a pair of records simultaneously. Chris Willman, Variety, 17 July 2022 See More

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.

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

25 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Gambit.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gambit. Accessed 2 Oct. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on gambit

Nglish: Translation of gambit for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about gambit

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