noun, often attributive
lot·​tery | \ ˈlä-tə-rē How to pronounce lottery (audio) also ˈlä-trē \
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.
Recent Examples on the Web The other lottery picks are Markelle Fultz, No. 1 in 2017; Jalen Suggs, No. 5 in 2021; Mo Bamba, No. 6 in 2018; and Wendell Carter Jr., No. 7 in 2018. Mark Inabinett |, al, 29 Sep. 2022 Cleveland sent former lottery picks Collin Sexton and Lauri Markkanen, recent first-round pick Ochai Agbaji, three first-round picks, and two pick swaps. Gary Washburn,, 3 Sep. 2022 Their two high-flying 2022 lottery picks, Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren, will make their debut alongside the rest of the young core, headlined by Cade Cunningham. Omari Sankofa Ii, Detroit Free Press, 17 Aug. 2022 Undrafted Emanuel Terry was the hero in a game featuring high lottery picks Paolo Banchero and Keegan Murray. Duane Rankin, The Arizona Republic, 9 July 2022 That's the price of doing business for Oklahoma City, which has stockpiled draft picks in recent years and added three lottery picks to their roster this season, Gonzaga's Chet Holmgren, France's Ousmane Dieng and Santa Clara's Jalen Williams. James Boyd, The Indianapolis Star, 5 July 2022 He’ll be accompanied by the Thunder’s other two lottery picks in Jalen Williams and Ousmane Dieng. Nick Crain, Forbes, 5 July 2022 Detroit ended up with two lottery picks, and Cleveland added to its already strong defense. Matt Eppers, USA TODAY, 24 June 2022 Sharpe, rated as the No. 3 recruit in the country by 247sports in 2020, is on the radar of most NBA teams with lottery picks in the June 23 draft. oregonlive, 15 June 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of lottery

1567, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for lottery

borrowed from Middle French loterie, probably borrowed from Middle Dutch loterye, from loten "to draw lots" (derivative of lot "lot, prediction, destiny," going back to Germanic *hluta-) + -erye -ery — more at lot entry 1

Note: Alternatively the Middle Dutch word could have been borrowed from Middle French loterie (despite the French word's later date), perhaps a calque on Middle Dutch lotinge "action of drawing lots" (thus the Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd edition). The earliest state-sponsored lotteries in Europe were held in the cities of Flanders in the first half of the 15th century. The first English state lottery was held in 1569, with advertisements using the word lotterie having been printed two years earlier.

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The first known use of lottery was in 1567

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lottery bond

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Last Updated

1 Oct 2022

Cite this Entry

“Lottery.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for lottery


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

More from Merriam-Webster on lottery

Nglish: Translation of lottery for Spanish Speakers

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


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