a gambling game or method of raising money, as for some public charitable purpose, in which a large number of tickets are sold and a drawing is held for certain prizes.
any scheme for the distribution of prizes by chance.
any happening or process that is or appears to be determined by chance:
to look upon life as a lottery.
Contemporary Examples

“If I won the lottery and could afford to live in Manhattan, no one would care, but here, I can have an effect,” DeWitt said.
Atheist Ex-Pastor Jerry DeWitt’s Mission to Red America David Masciotra November 16, 2013

These days, women often view a decent job and an employed husband as if such good luck were tantamount to winning the lottery.
American Moms: Unsung Heroes of a Bad Economy Leslie Bennetts December 14, 2011

And the fact that Degrassi was set in Canada, made in Canada … well, that was like winning the lottery.
Wheels Is Dead: Remembering a Canadian Childhood Glynnis MacNicol February 29, 2012

Why, the majority of German lottery winners did not even quit their jobs.
Will Winning the Mega Millions Kill You? (Science Says No.) Kent Sepkowitz December 16, 2013

Two male patients wrote to him that they had won the lottery after the surgery.
Your Future Is in the Palm of Your (Surgeon’s) Hand Jake Adelstein, Nathalie-Kyoko Stucky July 11, 2013

Historical Examples

If you smile your face will be attractive, no matter how unlucky you were in the lottery of beauty.
Evening Round Up William Crosbie Hunter

We put into a lottery for a beefsteak pudding, and it is impossible to say what we may get.
Life And Adventures Of Martin Chuzzlewit Charles Dickens

Those who form companionships amid such circumstances go into a lottery where there are twenty blanks to one prize.
New Tabernacle Sermons Thomas De Witt Talmage

It was at the time when the Chamber was asked to authorise the issue of lottery stock.
The Three Cities Trilogy, Complete Emile Zola

The ministers preferred ready money by annuities for ninety-nine years, and by a lottery.
Old and New London Walter Thornbury

noun (pl) -teries
a method of raising money by selling numbered tickets and giving a proportion of the money raised to holders of numbers drawn at random
a similar method of raising money in which players select a small group of numbers out of a larger group printed on a ticket. If a player’s selection matches some or all of the numbers drawn at random the player wins a proportion of the prize fund
an activity or endeavour the success of which is regarded as a matter of fate or luck

1560s, “arrangement for a distribution of prizes by chance,” from Italian lotteria, from lotto “lot, portion, share,” from same root as Old English hlot (see lot). Cf. Middle French loterie, from Middle Dutch loterje, from lot (n.).


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