One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A game traditionally associated with con men, in which the dealer shows the player three cards then moves them around face-down, the player being obliged to pick the specified card from among the three.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.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
Early 19th century: Spanish, literally ‘mountain’, also ‘heap of cards left after dealing’.
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