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

Wolford parlayed an opportunity in the defunct Alliance of American Football into a role with the Rams and passed for three touchdowns during the preseason. Gary Klein, Los Angeles Times, "John Wolford and Dakota Allen among players signed to Rams’ practice squad," 1 Sep. 2019 The Housewives are also known for their original music, parlaying reality TV fame into musical superstardom … with mixed success. Dave Quinn,, "The Definitive Ranking of Every Single Real Housewives Song," 5 Aug. 2019 The next season the Cubs finished third with a team that parlayed a wild-card berth all the way to National League Championship Series, and their average rating rose 120% to 3.1. Phil Rosenthal,, "White Sox’s TV ratings — best in 5 years — similar to what the Cubs enjoyed before their World Series climb," 9 July 2019 In Islamic State’s former eastern Syrian stronghold, the Islamic Republic of Iran is parlaying its military and economic might into a lasting foothold. Benoit Faucon, WSJ, "Iran Moves to Cement Its Influence in Syria," 26 Mar. 2019 But Beauchesne also parlayed his social media fame into another business opportunity, launching a line called DoggoRamps, meant for small dogs who need help climbing onto beds or other furniture. Nicolas Heller, Vogue, "It’s Hard Out There for a Pet Influencer," 20 Dec. 2018 Campbell appeared to be positioned to parlay a strong training camp into a big role in the offense, but an injury kept him out for a majority of training camp. Akeem Glaspie, Indianapolis Star, "14 Colts you should draft on your fantasy team," 19 Aug. 2019 China felt directly threatened by the Soviets at the time, and Nixon was thought to have parlayed the nascent relationship as a counter to Moscow over arms control talks. Tamer Fakahany, The Seattle Times, "Leaders take big gambles in visiting ‘enemy’ territory," 18 Sep. 2018 By now, everyone knows how Thielen parlayed a rookie tryout into an opportunity at training camp after graduating from Minnesota State Mankato. Dane Mizutani, Twin Cities, "‘I wouldn’t be in the NFL’: Vikings weigh in on ‘Catch-22’ of shortening preseason," 28 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 Right after the presidents’ dinnertime parlay, Chinese officials said the two sides agreed to put tariffs in abeyance to negotiate a settlement but offered few other details then and in the days since. WSJ, "China Breaks Its Silence on 90-Day U.S. Tariff Truce," 5 Dec. 2018 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

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

5 Oct 2019

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Time Traveler for parlay

The first known use of parlay was in 1828

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More Definitions for parlay



English Language Learners Definition of parlay

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

More from Merriam-Webster on parlay

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with parlay

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for parlay

Britannica English: Translation of parlay for Arabic Speakers

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a topic to which one constantly reverts

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