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 The winner earns $300,000, plus the opportunity to parlay the victory into lucrative sponsorship deals. Dallas News, 5 June 2021 The sums reflect an emerging incentive structure in Washington, where the biggest provocateurs can parlay their notoriety into small-donor successes that can help them amass an even higher profile. New York Times, 17 Apr. 2021 Yet, some content creators are figuring out how to parlay their star power into a long-term, durable brand. Frederick Daso, Forbes, 11 May 2021 Paye, who was also previously named the No. 1 freak in college football by The Athletic's Bruce Feldman, will be expected to parlay his physical attributes into sacks and pressures in the NFL. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, 30 Apr. 2021 Within months of leaving Trump's cabinet, Zinke moved to parlay his public service into a lucrative private career. Matthew Brown, ajc, 29 Apr. 2021 Can Mac Jones parlay one-full season of starting experience and a national title into a top-five selection in the upcoming NFL draft? Mike Jones, USA TODAY, 22 Apr. 2021 Additionally, e-commerce operators that are able to parlay fintech advancements and provide the most seamless experience possible, for consumers and vendors alike, are primed to succeed in the marketplace of the future. Rey Mashayekhi, Fortune, 15 Apr. 2021 And on Monday at 9 p.m. against Arizona, IU will have a chance to parlay that into a trip to the Final Four. Jeremy Price, The Indianapolis Star, 28 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun One gambler won $33,201.09 on a 10-leg, $10 parlay through DraftKings. oregonlive, 22 Mar. 2021 March is one time of the year that many people who don’t know a parlay from a point spread suddenly become sports bettors by risking a few bucks in an N.C.A.A. men’s tournament pool. New York Times, 15 Mar. 2021 Patz is prominent in the world of parlay sports betting. Meredith Deliso, ABC News, 12 Mar. 2021 After Salvador was killed by Vera during the parlay, Alyssa decided to go avenge her death by trying to get the Fors Factoram, which would allow someone to do magic without any sacrifice. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, 24 June 2020 Yes, two of the three elements of the parlay were smart, but, as previously discussed, the tip bet is just reckless. Derek Lawrence,, 26 May 2020 Below is our five-play parlay to keep you interested in college football during the holidays. Ryan Dodson, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, 20 Dec. 2019 Another hit a nine-game parlay, turning $2 into slightly more than $1,400. Timothy Mclaughlin, The Atlantic, 25 Apr. 2020 This month, a gambler put down a $900 bet on a parlay of six such matches and collected nearly $19,000 in winnings. Timothy Mclaughlin, The Atlantic, 25 Apr. 2020

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


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

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Last Updated

11 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Parlay.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Jun. 2021.

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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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for parlay

Britannica English: Translation of parlay for Arabic Speakers


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