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 Only two years ago, Alito unsuccessfully tried the same gambit, dissenting from conservative textualist Justice Neil Gorsuch’s decision that the 1964 Civil Rights Act barred workplace discrimination against gay and transgender people. Simon Lazarus, The New Republic, 20 June 2022 The gambit might just work — underscoring the Russian economy’s surprising resilience in the face of one of the most intense barrages of sanctions ever meted out by the West. Ivan Nechepurenko, BostonGlobe.com, 12 June 2022 The gambit might just work — underscoring the Russian economy’s surprising resilience in the face of one of the most intense barrages of sanctions ever meted out by the West. New York Times, 10 June 2022 Many have seen that gambit as an effort by Musk to recast the deal at a far lower price—or even walk away entirely. Shawn Tully, Fortune, 23 May 2022 That gambit went up in flames Tuesday when its bid to pursue its breach of contract case was rejected. Winston Cho, The Hollywood Reporter, 15 Feb. 2022 His gambit failed spectacularly, with nationalist and populist forces reuniting to fatally torpedo the government. Jason Horowitz, BostonGlobe.com, 21 July 2022 His gambit failed spectacularly, with nationalist and populist forces reuniting to fatally torpedo the government. New York Times, 21 July 2022 But forecasting oil prices for the rest of the year remains a difficult gambit. Julia Horowitz, CNN, 18 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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Statistics for gambit

Last Updated

8 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Gambit.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gambit. Accessed 12 Aug. 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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