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

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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

The basis for this winning Republican rhetorical gambit has disintegrated. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Poll: Barack Obama Was the Greatest President of Our Lifetime," 11 July 2018 With the exception of the California gambit, which would first need a ballot initiative and an act of the state legislature, all of these ideas could be achieved through normal congressional legislation. Zachary Roth, New York Times, "Is the System Rigged Against Democrats?," 17 May 2018 Then there’s the gambit of enlisting a family member to chalk up the dough on your behalf. Liz Krieger, Town & Country, "The Stealthy Lies People Tell to Cover up Their Plastic Surgery," 26 Feb. 2019 McCain returned to Washington some days later and voted to initiate debate on the Republican repeal and replace gambit. Chad Pergram, Fox News, "Amid cancer treatment, McCain exercised significant political clout from afar," 25 Aug. 2018 Passing a stand-alone bill would essentially bring Trump's negotiating gambit to an end. Aaron Blake, Washington Post, "How Republicans could call Trump’s bluff on separating families," 20 June 2018 The gambit not only earned her a dedicated customer base that other champagne houses had largely ignored, but also intrinsically changed expectations of the flavor of champagne. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "You Have the Founding Mothers of Champagne to Thank for the Bubbly You Drink Today," 8 Mar. 2019 Bolton is also casting a shadow on the White House's North Korea gambit. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "The White House’s wishful thinking on Iran and North Korea," 22 May 2018 For example: In 2011, a crisis of copyright law essentially begot the success of MusicBed, which was, at the time, still an entrepreneurial gambit by the owner of a creative agency. Jacqueline Detwiler, Popular Mechanics, "Why Does Every Tech Ad Use the Same Song? Because of This Man.," 26 Feb. 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

18 May 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

gambit

noun

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

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about gambit

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