noun, often attributive
lot·​tery | \ ˈlä-tə-rē also ˈlä-trē How to pronounce lottery (audio) \
plural lotteries

Definition of lottery

1a : a drawing of lots in which prizes are distributed to the winners among persons buying a chance
b : a drawing of lots used to decide something
2 : an event or affair whose outcome is or seems to be determined by chance

Examples of lottery in a Sentence

They held a lottery to determine who could get a green card. Room assignments are determined by lottery. Life's a lottery, isn't it? It all depends on luck.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The use of lotteries to raise revenue is as old as the nation itself. Jonathan D. Cohen, Vox, "How lottery money helped build the United States," 24 Oct. 2018 Must get rid of lottery, catch and release, and finally go to a system of immigration that is merit-based. Fox News, "Giuliani: Mueller does not have a legitimate investigation," 31 July 2018 Deandre Ayton is expected to be chosen in the top two, Marvin Bagley III in the top five, and Zhaire Smith might sneak into the bottom of the lottery. New York Times, "Jay-Z, Known Basketball Fan, to Help Puma Sell Sneakers," 19 June 2018 Sexton, like most players projected to be in the lottery (top 14 picks), worked out for the Hornets separately from the other five players brought in Thursday. Rick Bonnell, charlotteobserver, "For Charlotte Hornets, would drafting Alabama's Collin Sexton be Kemba Walker 2.0?," 14 June 2018 The genetics counselor explained that Cal had won the worst sort of lottery: MLD affects 1 in 100,000 children. Maria Kefalas, STAT, "How much would you pay for the miracle of gene therapy?," 3 May 2018 The games are free to download but players can pay for enhancements to speed up game play or enter in-game lotteries to win special characters. Takashi Mochizuki, WSJ, "Nintendo to Smartphone Gamers: Don’t Spend Too Much on Us," 6 Mar. 2019 Everyone who buys a house these days has won some kind of lottery. Angela Serratore, Curbed, "The pure joy of HGTV’s ‘My Lottery Dream Home’," 21 Sep. 2018 The fight for the seat occupied by outgoing Republican Rep. Ed Royce is widely considered a toss-up between Cisneros, a $266 million lottery winner and Navy veteran, and Kim, a former legislator and Royce aide. Michael R. Blood, The Seattle Times, "Sexual harassment claim withdrawn in California House race," 2 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'lottery.' 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 lottery

1567, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for lottery

Middle French loterie, from Middle Dutch, from lot lot; akin to Old English hlot lot

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Dictionary Entries near lottery





lottery bond

lottery wheel


Statistics for lottery

Last Updated

10 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for lottery

The first known use of lottery was in 1567

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More Definitions for lottery



English Language Learners Definition of lottery

: a way of raising money for a government, charity, etc., in which many tickets are sold and a few of the tickets are chosen by chance to win prizes
: a system used to decide who will get or be given something by choosing names or numbers by chance
: an event or situation in which what happens is decided by luck or chance


lot·​tery | \ ˈlä-tə-rē How to pronounce lottery (audio) \
plural lotteries

Kids Definition of lottery

: a way of raising money in which many tickets are sold and a few of these are drawn to win prizes

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More from Merriam-Webster on lottery

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with lottery

Spanish Central: Translation of lottery

Nglish: Translation of lottery for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of lottery for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about lottery

Comments on lottery

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marked by a state of overwhelming emotion

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