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par·​lay ˈpär-ˌlā How to pronounce parlay (audio) -lē How to pronounce parlay (audio)
parlayed; parlaying; parlays

transitive verb

: to bet in a parlay
: to exploit successfully
He hoped to parlay his basketball skills into a college scholarship.
: to increase or otherwise transform into something of much greater value
She parlayed $5,000 and years of hard work into a multimillion-dollar company.


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: a series of two or more bets so set up in advance that the original stake plus its winnings are risked on the successive wagers
broadly : the fresh risking of an original stake together with its winnings

Did you know?

In gambling, parlay is used for a series of bets in which a person places a bet, then puts the original stake of money and all of its winnings on new wagers. The noun comes from the French name for such bets: paroli. Be careful not to mix up the verb parlay with the similar word parley, meaning "to speak with another or to confer."

Examples of parlay in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
While trying to engage in back-channel conversations with the Comte de Vergennes (Thibault de Montalembert), France’s foreign minister, Franklin parlays his connections to take up residence in the guest house of a businessman, Chaumont (Olivier Claveries). Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 10 Apr. 2024 That growing skill set would eventually parlay itself into LeBlanc fronting his own group. Garret K. Woodward, Rolling Stone, 1 Apr. 2024 Kroger hoped to parlay its success in California and dent Publix in its home state. Howard Cohen, Miami Herald, 27 Mar. 2024 The Al-Rajhi family parlayed a camel rental business into the world’s largest non-state Islamic bank, Al-Rajhi Bank, and is now one of the wealthiest families in the kingdom outside the royal family. Melvin Backman, Quartz, 16 Feb. 2024 Even more reinforcements are coming in next month’s NFL Draft, where the 49ers own 10 picks to parlay into young players or better draft slots. Cam Inman, The Mercury News, 26 Mar. 2024 Corbeil has since parlayed that early love and those skills into a nearly decade-long career in construction. Alicia Wallace, CNN, 15 Mar. 2024 In some cases, the schools are a way into Canada for students who can parlay their visas into permanent residencies. Rob Gillies, Fortune, 23 Jan. 2024 The Madison Avenue impresario, who once ran a media-buying operation and parlayed his experience there into a role as the ultimate go-between among ad agencies, big-spending clients and the media outlets that crave them, finds himself — at least for now — without a base of operations. Brian Steinberg, Variety, 13 Mar. 2024
When every game gets presented as a point spread, and when every shot becomes merely an input in a degenerate’s parlay math, the game feels cheapened. Jay Caspian Kang, The New Yorker, 29 Mar. 2024 There’s nothing wrong with that — but sometimes, the juiciest odds can be found on props, futures, or parlays, with the best online UFC betting sites offering much more depth these days. Sponsored Content, The Mercury News, 8 Mar. 2024 Use their prop bet builder to construct Hail Mary wagers with just a few clicks or create same-game parlays that ride on a single lucky pass. Sponsored Content, The Mercury News, 11 Mar. 2024 Chiefs-Ravens same game parlay for the AFC championship Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson anytime TD, Travis Kelce under 62.5 receiving yards, Marquez Valdes-Scantling over 16.5 receiving yards (+525). Jon Hoefling, USA TODAY, 28 Jan. 2024 Here are our picks for a same-game parlay that could net you some serious cash. Jon Hoefling, USA TODAY, 28 Jan. 2024 Professional and casual bettors alike can turn to their smartphones to download an app and dream of winning parlays. Rivan Stinson, Washington Post, 10 Feb. 2024 There are countless horror stories among sports bettors of a parlay blowing up at the last minute. Dane Mizutani, Twin Cities, 2 Jan. 2024 Oliver’s suggestion that Santos’ parlay his evil for entertainment may not be too far-fetched. Carita Rizzo, Rolling Stone, 4 Dec. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'parlay.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



verbal derivative (perhaps with conformation to parley entry 2 or French parler "to speak") of paroli "series of bets set up so that the original stake and winnings are placed on successive wagers," borrowed from French, borrowed from Italian, plural of parolo (stress on first syllable), of uncertain origin

Note: Apparently the earliest attestation of the Italian word is in the Italian-English dictionary of John Florio, Queen Anna's New World of Words, or Dictionarie of the Italian and English Tongues (London, 1611), in which Pároli is defined as "a grand part set or cast at dice," with a corresponding verb Paroláre "to set or play at a grand part at dice." French paroli first appears as a gloss of the Italian word in the Italian-French dictionary of Antoine Oudin, Recherches italiennes et françoises, ou Dictionnaire, contenant outre les mots ordinaires, une quantité de Proverbes & de Phrases (Paris, 1640), where Italian Paroli is glossed as "paroli, aux dez" ("paroli, at dice"). C. Battisti and G. Alessio (Dizionario etimologico italiano, Florence, 1954) characterize parolo as Neapolitan ("voce napoletano") and adduce additionally Sicilian pàrula "doppia posta nel giuoco del faraone o bassetta" ("double stake in the game of faro or basset [a game similar to faro]"), which they aver to be a derivative of paro "equal." Opposing these conjectures is the entry párolo in a list of dialect words from Lucca in Tuscany, along with their etymologies, compiled by Silvio Pieri ("Appunti etimologici," Zeitschrift für romanische Philologie, Band 30 [1903], p. 302). Pieri proposes that the word is a univerbation of paro lo "I offer it (hold it out)," referring to the sum wagered. This etymology is seconded by the Oxford English Dictionary, third edition, and the Trésor de la langue française.


derivative of parlay entry 1

First Known Use


1828, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1904, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of parlay was in 1828


Dictionary Entries Near parlay

Cite this Entry

“Parlay.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


: to increase or change into something of much greater value


from parlay "to make a series of bets so that winnings from earlier bets are all wagered on later contests," from French paroli (noun) "a parlayed bet," from an Italian dialect word paroli, plural of parolo "a parlayed bet," perhaps from para "equal"

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