General English


  • noun an amount deposited when you risk money on the result of a race or of a game
  • verb to risk money on the result of something

Origin & History of “bet”

since its comparatively late arrival, bet has ousted the earlier lay, wager, and game as the main term for ‘risking money on an uncertain outcome’ (gamble is later still). It is by no means clear where it came from; the usual explanation is that it is short for the noun abet, in the sense ‘instigation, encouragement, support’ – that is, one is giving one’s ‘support’ to that which one thinks, or hopes, may happen in the future (abet itself comes from the Old French verb abeter, and is related to English bait). It first appears in Robert Greene’s Art of cony Catching 1592, which suggests an origin in the argot of small-time Elizabethan criminals.