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 number of Mexicans entering the H-1B lottery has declined since 2013, with employers filing 2,239 petitions for workers from Mexico in 2017. Melia Russell,, "Mexicans have a special route to the US job market. Trade wars could close it off," 16 June 2019 In 2006, a federal jury convicted Siegelman of bribery for appointing HealthSouth founder Richard Scrushy to a state hospital board in exchange for Scrushy arranging $500,000 in contributions to Siegelman’s campaign for a state lottery in 1999. Mike Cason |,, "Judge approves early end to former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman’s probation," 14 June 2019 Langford could drop out of the lottery because of his quiet demeanor, which sometimes comes across as passive or uninterested in games. Scott Horner, Indianapolis Star, "NBA Draft 2019: What if IU basketball's Romeo Langford is available for the Pacers?," 13 June 2019 Since the Blues appeared to be headed for the lottery at the time, Armstrong wanted to check out some prospects. Alex Prewitt,, "Gloria! Blues Turn Lost Season Into Long-Awaited Stanley Cup Title," 13 June 2019 And while Illinois voted to allow sports betting and to legalize recreational marijuana, Alabama failed to approve either a state lottery or medical marijuana. Timothy Williams, New York Times, "With Most States Under One Party’s Control, America Grows More Divided," 11 June 2019 As noted in a 1989 New York Times article, Galligan had been assigned to the case, bucking the state’s convention of choosing a judge by lottery. Bethonie Butler, Washington Post, "‘Full of distortions and falsehoods’: Linda Fairstein slams Ava DuVernay’s ‘When They See Us’ in op-ed," 11 June 2019 In Oregon, where the government owns and operates video gambling machines through the state lottery, the tax rate is 73%. Jason Grotto, ProPublica, "Illinois Video Gambling Tax Hike Will Be Decided by Lawmakers With Financial Ties to the Industry," 10 June 2019 Moose hunting licenses are picked from a lottery, and 2,820 will be awarded in 2019. Fox News, "More women are hunting moose in Maine," 10 June 2019

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

19 Jun 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

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