Definition of martingale in English:



  • 1A strap, or set of straps, attached at one end to the noseband (standing martingale) or reins (running martingale) of a horse and at the other end to the girth. It is used to prevent the horse from raising its head too high.

    • ‘He attached a single martingale to a colorful bridle with a bundle of myriad feathers on the forehead of the animal.’
    • ‘To learn the two track maneuver, use a martingale or a snaffle bit with draw reins to encourage the horse to flex through the poll and keep his head still.’
    • ‘A martingale on the horse broke but it was not clear what role, if any, that played in the accident and injury.’
    • ‘Other safety items are available that can be attached to reins, stirrups and martingales, as well as fluorescent saddlecloths and exercise rugs.’
    • ‘As a baseline, all horses will go in a snaffle bridle with no martingale.’
  • 2A gambling system of continually doubling the stakes in the hope of an eventual win that must yield a net profit.

    • ‘The existence of equivalent martingale measures was proved by Harrison and Kreps.’
    • ‘No matter what the game, losing streaks come as surely as nightfall, and sooner or later every gambler discovers the martingale.’
    • ‘The Martingale system involves doubling your bet after each loss. Many players try it and have initial success.’
    • ‘The alternative is to define probability in terms of games rather than measure (this was started by von Mises and greatly advanced by Ville, who in 1939 replaced von Mises's awkward gambling strategies with what he called martingales).’
    • ‘Caught in such a trend, living a life that matches the pace and the cost of change becomes a gamble on martingale terms - the stakes are doubled after every loss.’


Late 16th century: from French, from Spanish almártaga, from Arabic al-marta‘a ‘the fastening’, influenced by martingale, from Occitan martegal ‘inhabitant of Martigues (in Provence’).