Definition of parlay in US English:



[with object]parlay something into
North American
  • 1Turn an initial stake or winnings from a previous bet into (a greater amount) by gambling.

    ‘it involved parlaying a small bankroll into big winnings’
    • ‘Though Barden generally parlays his ventures into a winning hand, he has rolled snake eyes on occasion.’
    • ‘Rey Wan Racing's Dazzling Dr. Cevin parlayed an allowance win over a fast Calder Race Course into his second stakes score Saturday when he came from off the pace to take the $200,000 Calder Derby.’
    • ‘He wanted somehow to parlay his stake into ownership of the whole paper and have us send him more money in the meantime.’
    • ‘They are in the position of the horse player who bet two dollars on a long shot, then parlayed his bets and kept winning, race after race, until he bet the entire wad, $10,000, on a 10-1 shot in the last race.’
    • ‘Walsh has said Ney parlayed a $100 bet into the large winning on two hands of a three-card game of chance.’
    • ‘Baccarat is a good fit for folks who enjoy the agony and ecstasy of gambling as well as the resplendence of the milieu, and don't come to the casino primarily or exclusively to parlay small stakes into big bucks.’
    1. 1.1informal Transform into (something greater or more valuable)
      ‘a banker who parlayed a sizable inheritance into a financial empire’
      ‘an excellent performance is quickly parlayed into lucrative contracts’
      • ‘He used his father's connections and parlayed his nine years of experience in Dallas into a post in Robert F. Kennedy's Justice Department, where he was appointed assistant attorney general in charge of the Lands Division.’
      • ‘All that most of them can hope for is to parlay their film work into lucrative nude dancing careers or Internet fan sites.’
      • ‘While Nietzsche, who suffered from undiagnosed chronic ailments, called his pain ‘dog,’ John Donne parlayed his illness, most likely typhus, into a spiritual journey.’
      • ‘The initiatives continue Waterford's ongoing efforts to parlay its heritage as a premier crystal/china manufacturer into a broad spectrum luxury-lifestyle brand.’
      • ‘Are we to assume that he invented this information and exposed himself to great risk because he knew that he might be able to parlay it into a lucrative book deal, or asylum in the US?’
      • ‘She parlayed her impressive WUSA performance into a second chance at national team stardom.’
      • ‘Through such deals, Pat has been able to parlay her talent as an artist into a substantial business.’
      • ‘He parlays that vision and poise into making a good pass to the right receiver.’
      • ‘In 1978, after a jaunt around Europe, he parlayed his interests into a broad arts criticism career, which he practiced at the Raleigh, North Carolina alternative weekly The Spectator.’
      • ‘For several years, design professionals sat in the catbird seat, able to parlay personnel shortages in a boom market into significant pay and benefit packages.’
      • ‘Each is betting his or her company's future on parlaying a strong niche position into an even stronger one by melding old-line and new-line businesses.’
      • ‘He's parlayed his surfing skill into three military surfing championships, including a win in the 2001 International Military Surfing Championships Men's Open Shortboard title hosted on Oahu.’
      • ‘He'll get an opportunity to parlay that eye-catching performance into a spot on the team.’
      • ‘RHP Brandon Lyon parlayed his surprising spring performance into the opening day closer job, supplanting RHP Greg Aquino.’
      • ‘Mateo, 24, could parlay that performance into a spot on the Reds' bench as a fourth outfielder.’
      • ‘While Hecht stresses that the investment came with no strings attached, it's clear that some foreign investors are hoping to parlay their investments into jobs or some other form of economic payback for their countries.’
      • ‘Of several banks, the most prominent was the Binga State Bank founded in 1908, Jesse Binga having begun with a coal, oil, and gas wagon and parlayed this into realty investments.’
      • ‘She parlayed her life-long passion for dolls Into her now 20-year-old Dorian's Doll Hospital, a doll repair business, that she operates out of her home in Reading, Pa.’
      • ‘The UK property market is so relatively inflated that you can parlay your assets into some stunning place in the sun, and ever more of us are doing so.’
      • ‘The versatile forward became a go-to guy in the playoffs, and parlayed that performance into a massive free-agent contract in the offseason.’


North American
  • A cumulative series of bets in which winnings accruing from each transaction are used as a stake for a further bet.

    • ‘Sporting events run the gamut from football to NASCAR with a broad selection of straights, parlays, teasers, props and futures available.’
    • ‘But at least in betting a baseball parlay, the player isn't bucking outrageous odds set by the house.’
    • ‘On parlays, Bet 365 offers true odds instead of fixed odds, which often contain onerous vig.’
    • ‘With bet 365's NBA / Baseball parlay bonus you can now score up to 50% more on all your NBA and Baseball parlays!’
    • ‘I'm not into parlays and things of that nature, and when I think of the spread I think of the layout of food at any given game.’
    • ‘Betting types are also varied and include everything from straight bets to a full array of mixed-sport parlays, teasers, if bets, round robins and futures.’
    • ‘The book includes several articles that include discussions of betting the side-total parlay and betting NBA futures.’
    • ‘TVG hopes to parlay a victory in California with one in D.C., but as most bettors know, parlays are risky ventures at best.’
    • ‘Think about the thousands of bettors who risk their hard-earned money on meaningless regular season hockey games, hoping to hit the elusive six-team parlay and bring a little joy into their otherwise excitement-less lives.’
    • ‘Lines to the betting counters are odysseys unto themselves, and open seats in any good sports book are rarer than a winning four-team parlay.’
    • ‘Canbet also offers perpetually reduced vigorish on straight bets and parlays.’
    • ‘They ponder parlays, betting syndicates, how the wise guys operate, why it's so tough to get a big bet down, and how and why the numbers change-ever so elusively.’
    • ‘There were still some situations in which a parlay paid more than the double.’
    • ‘Here's to hoping you nailed a two-team parlay and have a lot of confidence as we await Sunday's Week 12 games.’


Late 19th century: from French paroli, from Italian, from paro ‘like’, from Latin par ‘equal’.