I. verb 1. [no obj.] — risk a sum of money or valued item against someone else’s on the basis of the outcome of an unpredictable event such as a race or game • he bet on baseball games
• [with clause]
I would be prepared to bet that he wanted to leave
• [with obj.]
most people would bet their life savings on the prospect.
2. [with obj. and clause] — risk a sum of money against (someone) on the outcome or likelihood of a future event[with two objs] • I bet you £15 you won’t chat her up.
3. [with clause] —
‹informal› used to express certainty
I bet this place is really spooky late at night
• he’ll be surprised to see me, I’ll bet.
II. noun 1. an act of betting a sum of money • she had a bet on the Derby
for a bet he once rode 200 miles in nine hours.
2. a sum of money staked • the bookies are taking bets on his possible successor.
3. [with adj.] —
‹informal› a candidate or option offering a specified likelihood of success
• City looked a good bet for victory
your best bet is to call the official liquidators.
4. ( one’s bet) —
‹informal› one’s opinion about a future event
• my bet is that Arsenal won’t win anything.
III. phrases 1. all bets are off
‹informal› the outcome of a situation is unpredictable.
• when they get lonely all bets are off.
2. bet the farm
‹informal› risk everything that one owns on a bet, investment, or enterprise
• this isn’t a great time to bet the farm on the Internet.
3. don’t (or I wouldn’t) bet on it
‹informal› used to express doubt about something
• he may be a suitable companion—but don’t bet on it.
4. want to bet?
‹informal› used to express strong disagreement with a confident assertion
• ‘You can’t be with me every moment.’ ‘Want to bet?’.
5. you bet
‹informal› you may be sure; certainly
• ‘Would you like this piece of pie?’ ‘You bet!’.
– origin late 16th cent.: perhaps a shortening of the obsolete noun abet ‘abetment’.