bet /bɛt/


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

(N. Amer.)
‹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’.

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