Taking Chances: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
October 18, 2023

Have you ever found yourself standing at a crossroads, contemplating whether to embrace uncertainty or remain in your comfort zone? If so, you've experienced what it's like to consider taking chances. The expression refers to embarking on a course of action where the outcome is uncertain or involves some risk.

In short:

"Taking chances" signifies embracing uncertainty and making decisions even when the outcome is unknown.

What Does "Taking Chances" Mean?

The phrase "taking chances" encapsulates the essence of embracing uncertainty and stepping into the unknown, highlighting an individual's willingness to face potential risks and rewards. It conveys a sense of adventure and the courage to venture beyond the familiar.

Let's dive into its core meanings and usage:

  • It often refers to venturing into the unknown and taking risks.
  • It can denote seizing opportunities, even when the outcome is uncertain.
  • Sometimes, it embodies the courage to challenge the status quo and break free from routine.

Where Does "Taking Chances" Come From?

The term "chance" dates back to around 1300 and was used to describe "something that takes place, an occurrence," especially one that is unexpected or unforeseen. It originated from the Old French word "cheance," which means "accident, chance, fortune, luck, situation, the falling of dice." This Old French term came from the Vulgar Latin *cadentia, which means "that which falls out," a term used in dice. This was derived from the Latin word "cadens," the present participle of "cadere," meaning "to fall."

Historical Usage

The phrase "to take (one's) chances," meaning "accept what happens," has been in use since the early 14th century. This phrase stems from the old, neutral sense of the word. By 1814, "to take a chance/take chances" meant "participate in a raffle or lottery or game." The extended sense of "take a risk" emerged by 1826.

10 Examples of "Taking Chances" in Sentences

Observing the idiom in various sentences offers insights into its diverse applications and nuances.

  • Tom is taking chances by investing in a startup.
  • Sometimes, taking chances leads to unexpected rewards.
  • Isn't life all about taking chances?
  • By not taking chances, we might miss life-changing opportunities.
  • I believe in taking chances. You've just got to enter the unknown and explore uncharted territories to discover your true potential.
  • When it comes to taking chances, I always ensure I do my best, regardless of the uncertainty.
  • I've always believed in taking chances, so even if this venture seems risky, it's worth a shot.
  • He regretted not taking chances when he had the opportunity.
  • While taking chances might not always guarantee success, it's definitely better than doing nothing.
  • Taking chances has shaped Sarah's career path significantly.

These examples highlight the idiom's versatility and its embodiment of risk and opportunity.

Examples of "Taking Chances" in Pop Culture

Spotting this idiom in pop culture isn't a game of chance; it's pervasive!

  • Celine Dion's song "Taking Chances" encapsulates the essence of embracing the unknown.
  • The movie "Risky Business" exemplifies the concept of taking chances through the protagonist's adventures.
  • In the series "Breaking Bad," Walter White's character is a testament to taking chances and dealing with consequences.

Synonyms: Other/Different Ways to Say "Taking Chances"

Beyond the literal idiom, many synonyms and expressions convey similar sentiments.

  • Taking a gamble
  • Taking a risk
  • Rolling the dice
  • Taking a leap of faith

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Taking Chances":

  • What does "taking chances" mean?

It refers to the act of making decisions or embracing opportunities when the outcome is uncertain, often implying risk.

  • Where did the idiom "taking chances" originate?

The phrase originated from gambling scenarios, symbolizing the risk and uncertainty inherent in such situations.

  • How is "taking chances" used in sentences?

It is used to depict scenarios of risk, opportunity, and embracing the unknown, as in "He is taking chances by investing in cryptocurrency."

  • Is "taking chances" always about financial risks?

No, it can refer to any kind of risk, including emotional, physical, or social risks.

  • Can "taking chances" lead to failure?

Yes, as it involves uncertainty, the outcome could be either success or failure.

  • Is "taking chances" a positive or negative idiom?

It is neutral; it can have positive connotations of growth and opportunity or negative implications of risk and potential loss.

  • Are there songs or movies titled "Taking Chances"?

Yes, for example, Celine Dion has a song titled “Taking Chances,” and there are films and series that explore the theme.

  • What are some synonyms for "taking chances"?

Synonyms include "taking a gamble," "taking a risk," "rolling the dice," and "taking a leap of faith."

  • Does "taking chances" imply a lack of planning?

Not necessarily; one can take calculated risks that involve both chance and planning.

  • Is "taking chances" similar to "taking risks"?

Yes, they are similar, but "taking chances" often emphasizes the uncertainty of the outcome more.

Final Thoughts About "Taking Chances"

"Taking chances" is about embracing uncertainty and diving into the unknown with courage and optimism. Whether you're considering a new career path, pondering a daring personal decision, or simply making a spontaneous choice in daily life, "taking chances" encapsulates that adventurous spirit.

Here's a quick wrap-up:

  • The idiom encapsulates risk, uncertainty, and the embrace of opportunity.
  • It's a versatile expression, finding its place in everyday language and pop culture.
  • Originating from gambling, it has evolved to symbolize various risks and adventures.

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