rou·​lette | \ rü-ˈlet How to pronounce roulette (audio) \

Definition of roulette

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a gambling game in which players bet on which compartment of a revolving wheel a small ball will come to rest in
b : something involving a high degree of chance and unpredictability
2a : any of various toothed wheels or disks (as for producing rows of dots on engraved plates or for making short consecutive incisions in paper to facilitate subsequent division)
b : tiny slits between rows of stamps in a sheet that are made by a roulette and serve as an aid in separation — compare perforation


rouletted; rouletting

Definition of roulette (Entry 2 of 2)

Examples of roulette in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun If Illinois moves on from Smith, athletics director Josh Whitman will get another chance to spin the coaching roulette wheel. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Program-worst defensive performance vs. North Carolina exposes Miami as a fraud," 14 Dec. 2020 Garth Follett of Novato, Calif., got caught in refund roulette with Philippine Airlines. Catharine Hamm, Los Angeles Times, "That COVID-19 airline refund you’re entitled to might require you to ... un-complain," 12 Nov. 2020 Rotation roulette in the NBA is a far more dicey proposition. Ira Winderman,, "ASK IRA: Is NBA heading down the MLB, NFL path of pandemic uncertainty?," 2 Nov. 2020 Call it Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance roulette, in which winners earn the right to ride one of Walt Disney World’s newest, most in-demand rides. Dewayne Bevil,, "Disney World: Rise of the Resistance hopefuls have mere seconds to catch the ride," 16 Oct. 2020 As a result, planets as well as light beams follow curving paths, like balls going around a roulette wheel. New York Times, "Nobel Prize in Physics Awarded to 3 Scientists for Work on Black Holes," 6 Oct. 2020 What about the long run of black numbers that came up on a Monte Carlo roulette wheel in 1913? Andrew Crumey, WSJ, "Chance of a Lifetime," 2 Oct. 2020 Without such a plan, the nation has been subjected to a giant game of viral roulette. Michael Specter, The New Yorker, "Trump’s Unprecedented Attacks on Our Public-Health System," 11 Aug. 2020 The roulette wheel that decides who lives and dies from the coronavirus is weighted by the type of blood coursing through the veins of victims, gifting some with innate resistance and dooming others to misery and torment. Peter Fimrite,, "If you have this blood type, studies show you’re at higher risk for the coronavirus," 9 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Miami played quarterback roulette the past few seasons but have left the uncertainty behind with the addition of Houston transfer D’Eriq King. Evan Dudley, al, "Position-by-position breakdown for UAB’s road tilt at Miami," 10 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'roulette.' 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 roulette


1744, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1867, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for roulette


French, literally, small wheel, from Old French roelete, diminutive of roele wheel, rowel, from Late Latin rotella, diminutive of Latin rota wheel — more at roll

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about roulette

Time Traveler for roulette

Time Traveler

The first known use of roulette was in 1744

See more words from the same year

Statistics for roulette

Last Updated

17 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Roulette.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for roulette


How to pronounce roulette (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of roulette

: a game in which a small ball is dropped onto a numbered wheel that is spinning and players bet on which numbered section the ball will rest in

More from Merriam-Webster on roulette

Nglish: Translation of roulette for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about roulette

Comments on roulette

What made you want to look up roulette? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words of Snow and Ice Quiz

  • image1037863653
  • Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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