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

Keep scrolling for more

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 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 The Broncos entertained their homecoming crowd with a 38-0 thrashing of Point Loma in a nonleague affair Friday night as Rancho Bernardo parlayed three Pointers turnovers into scores. Rick Hoff, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Rancho Bernardo back in groove with win over Pointers," 13 Sep. 2019 Person, who was in financial trouble at the time, accepted $91,500 in bribes to parlay his relationships with top players to steer them to a financial adviser, federal prosecutors said. Washington Post, "Former Auburn assistant basketball coach avoids prison," 17 July 2019 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about parlay

Listen to Our Podcast about parlay

Statistics for parlay

Last Updated

16 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for parlay

The first known use of parlay was in 1828

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

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).


concealed or difficult to comprehend

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Pass the Little Ribbons: A Pasta Word Quiz

  • pasta resembling wheels with spokes
  • Match the pasta to its meaning in English: Rotelle
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!