• 2-minute read
  • 7th January 2021

Word Choice: Gamble vs. Gambol

It’s easy to mix up words that sound the same, like ‘gamble’ and ‘gambol’, especially when they have similar spellings. However, these words mean different things, so you won’t want to use the wrong one in your writing.

Find out how to use ‘gamble’ and ‘gambol’ correctly below.

Gamble (Bet Money or Take a Risk)

‘Gamble’ can be used as a verb or a noun. In both cases, though, ‘gambling’ is related to playing games of chance or otherwise taking risks.

On the most literal level, the verb form of ‘gamble’ means ‘bet money on the result of something’, usually a game or sports event. For example:

He gambled his last few dollars on the poker game.

Will you gamble on the Grand National this year?

But ‘gambling’ can describe taking risks more generally, too:

I’m gambling on the shop delivering the parcel in time.

He gambled his entire savings on the business.

And the noun form of this word simply refers to the act of taking a gamble:

The gamble paid off when Harris scored in the final minute.

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We took a gamble on hiring him, but he has impressed us so far.

However, whether you use it as a verb or noun, and whether you’re referring to a wager or a risk more generally, this word is always spelled ‘gamble’.

Gambol (Run and Jump Playfully)

The verb to ‘gambol’ means ‘run, jump, and frolic in a playful way’:

The lambs gambolled through the meadow.

You might also see ‘gambol’ used as a noun to refer to the action of running or jumping about playfully. For instance:

The kids had a gambol in the autumn leaves today.

However, both forms of ‘gambol’ are rare in modern English.

Summary: Gamble or Gambol?

While these words sound the same, they have different meanings:

  • Gamble refers to taking a risk, especially in relation to betting money.
  • Gambol refers to running and jumping in a happy or playful way.

Remember, too, that ‘gambol’ is rare in modern English! And if you’re ever referring to a risk, whether it involves money or not, the correct term will always be ‘gamble’.

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