par·​lay | \ ˈpär-ˌlā How to pronounce parlay (audio) , -lē How to pronounce parlay (audio) \
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 Both are moms, child stars who parlayed their early success into careers as adults, and professionals who have shared the same agent for decades. Katherine J Igoe, Marie Claire, "How Regina King Found—and Became—Inspiration," 29 Oct. 2019 Penn State has very clearly been able to parlay Saquon Barkley's success on the recruiting trail. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football vs. Penn State: Scouting report, prediction," 14 Oct. 2019 The Palm Beach socialite, 81, who parlayed colorful dresses designed to hide orange juice stains into a fashion empire, died in 2014 at her home in Palm Beach. Doreen Christensen,, "These 25 celebrities died in South Florida | Photos," 8 Oct. 2019 Leif Dautch: With a major endorsement from the city’s sheriff’s deputies’ union, Dautch is hoping to parlay the support from law enforcement and his experience as a state prosecutor to blaze a path to victory. Evan Sernoffsky,, "Political drama boosts interest in San Francisco’s heated district attorney race," 16 Oct. 2019 Rookies also can often find themselves in these situational roles, especially those not drafted in the first round, and can parlay those early season snaps into significant time by the end of the season (Patriots rookie DE Chase Winovich anyone?). Ross Miles, Sports Illustrated, "An Introductory Primer to IDP Leagues," 21 June 2019 Rolling Stone hopes to parlay its music cred into a slate of events that will appeal to ticket-buying readers as well the larger music industry business. Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, WSJ, "Cardi B, Live Events, Fewer Issues: Meet the New Rolling Stone," 2 July 2018 Carle was steady as Chris Pronger’s partner, so at least the Flyers parlayed Eminger into something positive. Sam Carchidi,, "Flyers, Ron Hextall can learn from Capitals' success in Stanley Cup Finals win | Sam Carchidi," 8 June 2018 Consider parlaying Oklahoma to win with a few of your other favorite bets this weekend. Marcus Mosher, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Oklahoma Sooners at UCLA Bruins odds, picks and best bets," 13 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The larger amount of items involved in a parlay lead to larger payout opportunities, but also higher risk. Ryan R. Bonini, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "NFL Thanksgiving Day Betting Guide - NFL parlays to consider," 27 Nov. 2019 The easy winner was that people wanted a parlay introduced. Los Angeles Times, "Racing! Here are the bets you want at Santa Anita," 4 Oct. 2019 The new bettor, however, was risk-averse and not keen on the all-or-nothing logic of parlays., "A new game in town," 10 Nov. 2019 This is a considerable amount of chalk, so consider pairing the Over with either the moneyline or spread picks mentioned above as a low-risk parlay. Esten Mclaren, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Los Angeles Kings at Edmonton Oilers odds, picks and betting tips," 5 Oct. 2019 Jones put down a $5 wager for the Cowboys to win the Super Bowl, The News Guard reports, to kick off the first legal sports wagering in the state since 2007, when the NFL parlay game Sports Action ended an 18-year run., "Legal sports betting begins in Oregon as Chinook Winds Casino opens wagering lounge," 27 Aug. 2019 There will be three ways to wager: Single-game bets, parlays and in-game wagering., "Canzano: Oregon Lottery poised to launch live sports book... soon," 16 Aug. 2019 Everyone shows up for a parlay, and when Jon does his show-and-tell bit with the wight, Cersei pretends to be properly spooked. Ineye Komonibo, Marie Claire, "This Is How Season 7 of 'Game of Thrones' Ended," 13 Apr. 2019 Throughout the storyline, attempts at peacemaking, cooperation, and parlays are met again and again with bloodshed, betrayal, and cyclical violence. Aja Romano, Vox, "In the era of Trump and apocalyptic change, Hopepunk is a storytelling template for #resistance — and hanging onto your humanity at all costs.," 27 Dec. 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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Time Traveler for parlay

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The first known use of parlay was in 1828

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Last Updated

30 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Parlay.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 13 December 2019.

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More Definitions for parlay


How to pronounce parlay (audio) How to pronounce parlay (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of parlay

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on parlay

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for parlay

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with parlay

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).


easily led, controlled, or managed

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