According to Merriam Webster's Dictionary, a gambit is

a chess opening in which a player risks one or more pawns or a minor piece to gain an advantage in position.

But I was wondering, why do we use the word 'gambit'? Where does it come from? How we came to use it?

  • 1
    It's a play on words. When your position is hopelessly lost you violently overturn the board, throwing pieces all around the room, and yell "Dodd Gambit!". Oct 12, 2015 at 13:31

1 Answer 1


The name 'gambit' was coined in the 16th century already by Ruy López. He derived it from the old Italian expression

dare il gambetto

(literally: 'to give the leg'). It means 'to trip (someone) over' - gambits were often used in attempt to win a game quickly.

  • Great answer. The word meaning is quite unexpected. Jan 13, 2021 at 9:01

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