Definition of lottery in English:



  • 1A means of raising money by selling numbered tickets and giving prizes to the holders of numbers drawn at random.

    ‘the introduction of a national lottery’
    [as modifier] ‘lottery tickets’
    • ‘All the Eastern States now are running lotteries to raise money in place of taxes.’
    • ‘Betting on horse racing, lotteries and raffles have long been a recognised way of gambling in New Zealand.’
    • ‘Probably the worst return for your money comes from the lotteries.’
    • ‘Widespread participation in lotteries and casino gambling reveals how poorly the public understands the laws of probability.’
    • ‘In some countries that hold state lotteries, tickets with number 13 will never be sold.’
    • ‘Thus, under federal law, as it is now written, Internet casinos and lotteries are legal.’
    • ‘The availability of lotteries and casino gambling, as well as gaming machines, has expanded dramatically worldwide.’
    • ‘I played the lottery when it started, but I don't any more.’
    • ‘The Club is now selling annual membership to its weekly lottery.’
    • ‘However, critics note these same states run equally addictive national lotteries and accuse them of hypocrisy.’
    • ‘Many state lotteries, particularly in Europe, are selling tickets online, and more will join.’
    • ‘The new law also includes plans to ensure that there is a clear distinction between lotteries and prize competitions.’
    • ‘The evening news was interrupted by the weekly lottery drawing.’
    • ‘The newly launched state lottery was being subsidised by the government, who had got their sums wrong.’
    • ‘The odds of winning the jackpot on the national lottery are one in nearly 14m.’
    • ‘Events were held around the country at sites that have benefited from lottery cash.’
    • ‘However, instant lotteries, wayside roulettes and raffles continue to lure citizens looking for quick and easy money.’
    • ‘Gambling has always been a big business and as more states adopt lotteries and permit casino gambling it gets even bigger every year.’
    • ‘The truth is, I've never bought a state lottery ticket in my life.’
    • ‘The gambling empire rakes in hundreds of millions of dollars each year from sweepstakes, lotteries and of late, poker machines.’
    raffle, sweepstake, sweep, bingo, lotto, tombola, drawing of lots, pools
    gamble, speculation, game of chance, competition
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[in singular]A situation whose success or outcome is governed by chance.
      ‘you can appeal, but the procedure is something of a lottery’
      • ‘His very poor punch resistance offsets his physical gifts, which makes every trip into the ring against top level opposition something of a lottery.’
      • ‘And I think most people will be quite happy with the normal genetic lottery.’
      • ‘After that, it is a complete and utter lottery, but Spurs are a good cup team, and definitely worth a pound or two.’
      • ‘Ryan had hit genetic lottery on both sides.’
      • ‘This inconsistency is infuriating clubs and leaving them feeling that the whole process is something of a lottery.’
      • ‘After all success with Atlantic Salmon is still the biggest lottery in fishing.’
      • ‘It has much to do with the lottery of life and its unforgiving nature - about fate, synchronicity, and whether what was, was supposed to be; of hopes realized and dashed, and possibly about self-delusion and being generally perplexed.’
      • ‘Student music can often seem like a bit of a gamble, if not a complete lottery, as far as an evening out is concerned.’
      • ‘He's like some super model who hit the genetic lottery.’
      risk, gamble, hazard, venture, speculation, long shot, leap in the dark, pig in a poke, pot luck
      View synonyms


Mid 16th century: probably from Dutch loterij, from lot lot.