gam·​bit | \ ˈgam-bət How to pronounce gambit (audio) \

Definition of gambit

1 : a chess opening in which a player risks one or more pawns or a minor piece to gain an advantage in position
2a(1) : a remark intended to start a conversation or make a telling point
(2) : topic
b : a calculated move : stratagem

Did you know?

In 1656, a chess handbook was published that was said to have almost a hundred illustrated gambetts. That early spelling of gambit is close to the Italian word gambetto, from which it is derived. Gambetto, which is from gamba, meaning "leg," was used for an act of tripping—especially one that gave an advantage, as in wrestling. The original chess gambit is an opening in which a bishop's pawn is sacrificed to gain some advantage, but the name is now applied to many other chess openings. After being pinned down to chess for years, gambit finally broke free of the hold and showed itself to be a legitimate contender in the English language by weighing in with other meanings.

Examples of gambit in a Sentence

I couldn't tell whether her earlier poor-mouthing had been sincere or just a gambit to get me to pick up the dinner check.
Recent Examples on the Web Pence never considered it, former vice-presidential counsel Greg Jacob testified — and even Eastman acknowledged that the gambit was not legal, Jacob said. Jacqueline Alemany, Washington Post, 16 June 2022 But look past the audaciousness of Musk’s gambit and there are some serious questions to consider, such as: How can a company that owns the public and private data of millions of users switch owners with zero public scrutiny? Anne Sraders, Fortune, 30 Apr. 2022 While the rest day aims to preserve him for the postseason, the team’s first loss of the season shows that the gambit is not without risk. Eric Walden, The Salt Lake Tribune, 31 Oct. 2021 The gambit is one of several ways Trump is blowing up the traditional path for a president after leaving office, reaping millions for his political efforts in the process. Michael Scherer And Josh Dawsey, Anchorage Daily News, 31 Oct. 2021 The rub is that the ransomware ploy only has to succeed one time, in the sense that if a malicious hacker tries a hundred different attempts at various entities, and only one of those takes hold, the crook still wins and the gambit was successful. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 14 June 2021 Such a gambit can be risky, with advertisers ceding the chance to get spots in top programs while their rivals snap them up. Brian Steinberg, Variety, 6 June 2022 The whole gambit of winter precipitation is on the table, from freezing rain to heavy snow. Derek Van Dam, CNN, 5 Jan. 2022 In fact, her mysterious M.O. has intrigued fans for seasons, and this latest gambit only helps to thicken the plot as the show hurtles toward conclusion. Dan Snierson,, 14 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gambit.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of gambit

1656, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for gambit

borrowed from Spanish gambito, borrowed from Italian gambetto, literally, "act of tripping someone," from gamba "leg" (going back to Late Latin) + -etto, diminutive suffix — more at jamb

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Last Updated

21 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Gambit.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jun. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on gambit

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


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