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

Will Sheinbaum Pardo parlay her likely stint as mayor into a national political career? Lizzie Wade, Science | AAAS, "Can this environmental engineer—now elected mayor—fix Mexico City?," 2 July 2018 Magic has spent the past several decades parlaying his fame into a business empire that includes everything from movie theaters, to Starbucks franchises, to the L.A. Dodgers. Andrew Sharp,, "Trusting the Lakers' Process in NBA Free Agency," 26 June 2018 Mero blogged about pop culture, parlaying it into absurdist, all-caps music and style reviews for Vice. Yohana Desta, HWD, "Desus and Mero Have Conquered the Five Boroughs and Late Night—What’s Next?," 17 Apr. 2018 Kathy Griffin is hoping to parlay her recent negative press into a career revival on her new tour. Tyler Mccarthy, Fox News, "Kathy Griffin unloads on Billy Bush and Anderson Cooper in new interview," 4 Apr. 2018 Werner could parlay a strong World Cup showing into a move to Liverpool, Manchester United and, of course, Bayern Munich. Jim Reineking, USA TODAY, "FIFA World Cup: 14 players who could be in next wave of soccer’s elite," 14 June 2018 More Curry defense led to another stop, which the Warriors parlayed into a Durant three-pointer. Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle, "In the end, Warriors’ Stephen Curry was a difference-maker," 6 June 2018 Whichever side prevailed would emerge at the negotiating table with an advantage that could be parlayed into a bargaining chip for important concessions. Adam Bernstein, Washington Post, "Joseph Clemons Jr., hero of Pork Chop Hill, dies at 90," 22 May 2018 This massive difference is evidence of the increasing power of current and former reality stars, many of whom hope to parlay their success on a TV series into careers that extend beyond their 15 minutes of fame. Madeline Buxton,, "From Roses To Riches: Reality Stars Are Making Bank On Instagram," 20 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

21 Sep 2018

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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

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