One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A game, traditionally associated with confidence tricksters, in which bets are made on which is the queen among three cards lying face downwards.Also called three-card trick
- ‘Before seeing the monte, the bidder discards up to four unwanted cards face down.’
2A Spanish game of chance played with forty-five cards.
- ‘Part of his plan is to develop the same skills at three-card monte that Lincoln, who has given up cards, used to have.’
- ‘This game is often called three-card monte in America, a name taken from monte, a Spanish game using 45 playing cards, which was once common in Mexico and California.’
- ‘On the sidewalk he sees a man playing three-card monte.’
- ‘In truth, he was a card cheat of remarkable dexterity who routinely cleaned out the sophisticates in games of three-card monte.’
Early 19th century: Spanish, literally ‘mountain’, also ‘heap of cards left after dealing’.
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