noun, often attributive
lot·​tery | \ ˈlä-tə-rē 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Fumiaki Ito, a 74-year-old retiree, said his broker encouraged him to enter a lottery for shares in the mobile unit, called SoftBank Corp., saying there was high demand. Suryatapa Bhattacharya, WSJ, "SoftBank Unit’s Debut Is One of Japan’s Worst, After $24 Billion IPO," 19 Dec. 2018 The town recently held a lottery for applicants looking to live there. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "This affordable housing complex is a model for pricey ski towns," 11 Oct. 2018 Puerto Rican residents can also enter a separate digital lottery, where 10,000 tickets will be available to win as well. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "Lin-Manuel Miranda Is Reprising His Role in Hamilton in Puerto Rico," 1 Oct. 2018 Then, you're entered into a lottery for a spot in the UTMB. Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "5 Things to Know About the 106-Mile Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc Race," 4 Sep. 2018 Mississippi is one of six states without a lottery. Jeff Amy, The Seattle Times, "Mississippi lawmakers approve bill to create a state lottery," 28 Aug. 2018 While South Korea uses a computerized lottery to pick participants for the reunions, North Korea is believed to choose based on loyalty to its authoritarian leadership. Kim Tong-hyung, Fox News, "'Dream or reality?' Koreans to meet after decades apart," 18 Aug. 2018 Chicago concluded that substantially overpaying LaVine, a 2014 lottery pick, and hoping for the best was less painful than taking another step back in a multi-year rebuilding effort. Ben Golliver,, "Grades: Bulls Matching Zach LaVine's Kings Offer Sheet Bitter Pill to Swallow," 7 July 2018 South Korea uses a computerized lottery to pick participants for the reunions, while North Korea is believed to choose based on loyalty to its authoritarian leadership. Kim Tong-hyung, The Christian Science Monitor, "North, South Korea to host reunions for war-split families," 22 June 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

13 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

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 \
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

What made you want to look up lottery? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to express emotion in a dramatic way

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