Definition of gambit in English:



  • 1An act or remark that is calculated to gain an advantage, especially at the outset of a situation.

    ‘his resignation was a tactical gambit’
    • ‘He also gave it an incredibly small number of conversational gambits.’
    • ‘The prosecution made a similar gambit, less before the jury - because the facts were on its side - than to the public at large.’
    • ‘The point, though, is that the gambit, which is ubiquitous in the public sphere, is inherently political, engages in hidden rhetorical work.’
    • ‘After all, he relies on a similar gambit in his story ‘Miracle in a Bottle’ to gauge the popularity of the diet drug Zantrex.’
    • ‘In a casting gambit that doubled as a publicity stunt he sent his assistants into rural schoolhouses to audition tens of thousands of thirteen-year-old girls.’
    • ‘Despite being out of office, he persisted in his meddlesome diplomatic gambits with his friends in Germany.’
    • ‘He employs the lame gambit of saying that he doesn't need to answer them because they ‘have been conclusively refuted.’’
    • ‘The success of these gambits rests on convincing lawmakers and federal regulators that the pension is too sick to save.’
    • ‘Through these gambits, business commentators challenge the very concept of innovation.’
    • ‘Almost certainly there are other gambits in preparation to be used against us.’
    • ‘I can't usefully compare future possibilities to current capabilities, but I've noticed patterns in the conversational gambits used in such discussions.’
    • ‘There are special gambits for nearly all situations.’
    • ‘Assign your staff to build the sort of book on Russert's techniques, rhetorical gambits, and political obsessions that you'd want going into a debate with an opposing candidate.’
    • ‘He analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of individuals and armies, the tactical gambits that had won nations and lost empires.’
    • ‘Parody-accusation is all well and good, but the gambit is becoming so commonplace I fear for the very future of vitriolic anti-feminist commentary.’
    • ‘The loser of this copycat election will lament all the strategic gambits that fell short in the end.’
    • ‘You are invited to contribute some gambits of your own.’
    • ‘Few comedic gambits are more likely to guarantee disaster than impressions of heavily accented family members, territory that he wisely steered clear of.’
    • ‘The Australians believe it is a psychological gambit to use and gain advantage over the opposition.’
    • ‘One of his favourite gambits on the stump is: ‘I used to be a prizewinning actor.’’
    advantage, upper hand, edge, lead, whip hand, trump card
    plan, scheme, strategy, stratagem, measure, technique, proposal, step, action, act, manoeuvre
    stratagem, machination, scheme, plan, tactic, manoeuvre, move, course of action, line of action, device, operation
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  • 2(in chess) an opening move in which a player makes a sacrifice, typically of a pawn, for the sake of a compensating advantage.

    ‘he tried the dubious Budapest gambit’
    • ‘By the time I was an ‘A’ player, gambits including the Smith-Morra were fully appreciated.’
    • ‘This book is geared toward the average player, but there is no discussion of gambit tries by white.’
    • ‘True fans of the gambit should consider this a challenge.’
    • ‘It's easy to recommend this book as essential material for those involved with this gambit on either side of the board.’
    • ‘The problem is with the get-rich-quick mentality that underlies many players’ use of gambits.’
    stratagem, machination, scheme, plan, tactic, manoeuvre, move, course of action, line of action, device, operation
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Mid 17th century: originally gambett, from Italian gambetto, literally ‘tripping up’, from gamba ‘leg’.