Definition of gambit in US English:



  • 1A device, action, or opening remark, typically one entailing a degree of risk, that is calculated to gain an advantage.

    ‘his resignation was a tactical gambit’
    • ‘The prosecution made a similar gambit, less before the jury - because the facts were on its side - than to the public at large.’
    • ‘Almost certainly there are other gambits in preparation to be used against us.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The point, though, is that the gambit, which is ubiquitous in the public sphere, is inherently political, engages in hidden rhetorical work.’
    • ‘He also gave it an incredibly small number of conversational gambits.’
    • ‘You are invited to contribute some gambits of your own.’
    • ‘He analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of individuals and armies, the tactical gambits that had won nations and lost empires.’
    • ‘One of his favourite gambits on the stump is: ‘I used to be a prizewinning actor.’’
    • ‘I can't usefully compare future possibilities to current capabilities, but I've noticed patterns in the conversational gambits used in such discussions.’
    • ‘Despite being out of office, he persisted in his meddlesome diplomatic gambits with his friends in Germany.’
    • ‘The loser of this copycat election will lament all the strategic gambits that fell short in the end.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He employs the lame gambit of saying that he doesn't need to answer them because they ‘have been conclusively refuted.’’
    • ‘Few comedic gambits are more likely to guarantee disaster than impressions of heavily accented family members, territory that he wisely steered clear of.’
    • ‘Through these gambits, business commentators challenge the very concept of innovation.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The Australians believe it is a psychological gambit to use and gain advantage over the opposition.’
    • ‘There are special gambits for nearly all situations.’
    • ‘The success of these gambits rests on convincing lawmakers and federal regulators that the pension is too sick to save.’
    • ‘After all, he relies on a similar gambit in his story ‘Miracle in a Bottle’ to gauge the popularity of the diet drug Zantrex.’
    advantage, upper hand, edge, lead, whip hand, trump card
    plan, scheme, strategy, stratagem, measure, technique, proposal, step, action, act, manoeuvre
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    1. 1.1 (in chess) an opening in which a player makes a sacrifice, typically of a pawn, for the sake of some compensating advantage.
      • ‘This book is geared toward the average player, but there is no discussion of gambit tries by white.’
      • ‘The problem is with the get-rich-quick mentality that underlies many players’ use of gambits.’
      • ‘True fans of the gambit should consider this a challenge.’
      • ‘By the time I was an ‘A’ player, gambits including the Smith-Morra were fully appreciated.’
      • ‘It's easy to recommend this book as essential material for those involved with this gambit on either side of the board.’
      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’.