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Homeracing

What is the History of the Word Betting?

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TwinSpires Staff

August 8th, 2020

History Of The Word – Betting

Betting on the outcomes of events has existed for as long as human society has been around.

Betting was formally introduced into history by tracing back to both Ancient China and Ancient Greece.

The first known use of the word was in 1592, according to Merriam-Webster. Yet the origins of “bet” are unclear. Many assume that the word was derived from the Middle English term “abet,” which is defined as “the urge to do something good or bad,” which likely has varied connotations for gamblers in particular.

The etymology of the word “abet” traces back to Germanic times with the word “bætan,” which is classically defined as “to bait.” This word evolved into “beter” in Latin, “abeter” in Anglo-French and “abetten” in Middle English. The presumption is that abetten was simplified to “bet” during the 17th century.

Another loose assumption is the word “bet” is an abbreviated form of the word “between,” since a wager is between two parties. For linguist enthusiasts out there, “between” has roots in Old English from the Germanic word “betwēonum.”

Ironically, the term “bet-upon” was also frequently used in insurance contracts as individuals bet that their house wasn’t going to burn down or that you weren’t going to be robbed. For legal purposes, this phrasing has been removed from modern day insurance agreements.

The term “wagering” has roots that date back to the 14th century as it is based on a Germanic word as well. “Handicapping,” as we know it today, is actually based on a 17th century bar game known as “hand in cap.” Betting has a more simplified etymology since the word evolved alongside the rest of the English language throughout human history.

While the definitive history of “betting” remains largely unspecified, one thing is for certain – it is based on the oldest uses of “to bait.”

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