par·​lay | \ˈpär-ˌlā, -lē \
parlayed; parlaying; parlays

Definition of parlay 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to bet in a parlay

2a : to exploit successfully He hoped to parlay his basketball skills into a college scholarship.

b : 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.



Definition of parlay (Entry 2 of 2)

: 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

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Did You Know?


If you're the gambling type, you may already know that parlay can also be used as a noun describing 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. But you might not know that parlay represents a modified spelling of the French name for such bets: paroli. You might also be unaware that the original French word is still occasionally used in English with the same meaning as the noun parlay. Be careful not to mix up parlay with the similar word parley, meaning "to discuss terms with an enemy." Although the spellings are very close, parley comes from the Latin word for "speech."

Examples of parlay in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Martz has parlayed her love for football into a successful national powerlifting career. Jayda Evans, The Seattle Times, "A battle for respect, then in the trenches: For Newport’s Jenna Martz, football is feminism," 26 Oct. 2018 ANDREI LUGOVOI Accused of poisoning and killing ex-KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 with radioactive tea in London, Lugovoi, a former KGB officer, parlayed his newfound fame into a political career. Greg Norman, Fox News, "Russians accused of crimes abroad finding fame in their homeland," 13 Sep. 2018 Some of Jones' music videos have garnered millions of views on YouTube and he's parlayed his online popularity into tours, most recently to parts of Europe. Seventeen, "YouTuber Austin Jones Was Arrested On Child Pornography Charges," 14 June 2017 No one did this better for a longer period of time than Hulk Hogan, but Steve Austin and The Rock were also able to parlay their wrestling notoriety into mass appeal with the general public. Justin Barrasso,, "The Week in Wrestling: Who Is The Best World Champion Right Now?," 27 June 2018 Heyward parlayed a few solid seasons at the plate and excellent fielding into a mammoth contract with the Cubs, but nowadays his 6-5, 245 lbs.-frame is much less imposing with all of those groundouts. Staff,, "The Greatest Debuts and First Hits in MLB History After Juan Soto's Unforgettable Moment," 22 May 2018 The New York native plans to parlay that momentum into an even bigger 2018. Michael Saponara, Billboard, "Meet Chef Pasquale, Unsigned Producer Who Worked on Drake's 'KMT' & Cardi B's New Album," 2 Apr. 2018 After joining Stax in 1965 as director of promotions, Bell parlayed that post into a multifaceted career at Stax that included stints as a songwriter and producer (Staple Singers, Isaac Hayes, Emotions) in addition to his executive roles. Gail Mitchell, Billboard, "Stax Legend Al Bell on Black Music's Living Legacy and Power: 'My Life's Mission Is to Make Sure It Doesn't Die'," 6 July 2018 Delighted at the attention, Victor parlayed his parenting lapse into two full days of media coverage, lecturing the Pittsburgh press like a visiting diplomat. Daniel De Vise, Chicago Reader, "How two Belgian boys became the youngest kids to bike across the U.S.—in 1935," 21 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In 2005, a bill winding down Sports Action was passed, and the last parlays were bet in 2007. Andrew Greif,, "Among Oregon athletic directors, sports betting's potential return sparks hope and concern," 24 May 2018 Johnson, 41, wanted a two-team parlay with the A’s and White Sox. Ed Barkowitz,, "Crazy day at Atlantic City sportsbook as Mark Wahlberg bets the Eagles, Patriots and … Browns," 28 June 2018 Delaware has offered limited NFL parlay wagering since 2009. Ed Barkowitz,, "Why haven't Pa. casinos filed for sports-betting permission yet? Could be 10 million reasons," 4 June 2018 Delaware has offered parlay NFL wagering via partial exemption under PASAP for about a decade. A.j. Perez, USA TODAY, "Ready to wager? Head to Delaware, which becomes first new state to offer betting Tuesday," 31 May 2018 In Delaware, that was a very niche product of parlay-style wagering on N.F.L. football, Ms. Slane said. New York Times, "Delaware Kicks Off Full-Scale Sports Betting, a First Outside of Nevada," 5 June 2018 Geisenberger notes, however, that while the average net take on parlay football bets has been about 25 percent, the average win on head-to-head, single-game bets is about five or six percent. Randall Chase, Houston Chronicle, "Delaware casinos to begin sports betting next week," 31 May 2018 Delaware also is close to offering full sports betting, after offering NFL parlay cards for nearly 10 years, while Pennsylvania appears to be at least several months away. Ed Barkowitz,, "Former Revel Casino bringing in heavy hitter to run its sportsbook," 29 May 2018 Starting in 1989, proceeds from Oregon's NFL parlay game Sports Action began to flow to athletic departments from Portland to Ashland and Monmouth to La Grande. Andrew Greif,, "Among Oregon athletic directors, sports betting's potential return sparks hope and concern," 24 May 2018

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


1828, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1904, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for parlay


French paroli, noun, parlay, from Italian dialect, plural of parolo, perhaps from paro equal, from Latin par


derivative of parlay entry 1

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Statistics for parlay

Last Updated

16 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for parlay

The first known use of parlay was in 1828

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English Language Learners Definition of parlay

: to use or develop (something) to get something else that has greater value

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Britannica English: Translation of parlay for Arabic Speakers

Comments on parlay

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


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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