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Russian roulette

1. A potentially fatal game of chance involving a revolver loaded with a single bullet, in which each participant in turn spins the cylinder so that the bullet's location is unknown, puts the barrel to his or her head, and pulls the trigger. A student of the university died over the weekend after apparently playing a game of Russian roulette with other members of his fraternity.
2. By extension, any reckless, foolish, and/or dangerous act or stunt, especially that in which the risk of danger or trouble is increased with the number of times one does it. Your company might have passed its audit this year, Mr. Fisk, but every year is going to be Russian roulette so long as this embezzlement continues. You're playing Russian roulette every single time you get behind the wheel of a car when you've been drinking.
See also: roulette, Russian

Black Russian

An alcoholic beverage made of coffee liqueur and vodka. Usually served over ice. Can I get a rum and coke, a glass of wine, and a Black Russian, please? I love Black Russians, but Ryan can't stand them. I think it's because he doesn't like the taste of coffee.
See also: black, Russian

play Russian roulette

to take foolish and dangerous risks She accused the hospital of playing Russian roulette with the health of poor children.
Etymology: based on the literal meaning of Russian roulette (a dangerous game of chance in which you hold a gun containing one bullet to your head and shoot, winning if the bullet does not come out)
See also: play, roulette, Russian

play Russian roulette

to take big risks, in a way which is very dangerous
Usage notes: Russian roulette is a very dangerous game where players aim a gun containing one bullet at their own heads.
(often + with ) I'm not willing to play Russian roulette with people's lives by drinking and driving.
See also: play, roulette, Russian
References in classic literature ?
The Russians came down with the rapidity of a conflagration.
The multitude finally comprehended that the Russians would not put to death a body of twenty thousand men, without arms, torpid, stupid, unable to defend themselves; and each man awaited his fate with horrible resignation.
Upon the dock and all through the journey to London the Russian had his hands full with Ajax.
The people, however, who entered most extensively and effectively in the fur trade of the Pacific, were the Russians.
As China was the grand mart for the furs collected in these quarters, the Russians had the advantage over their competitors in the trade.
48 north to the pole, excepting that portion held by the Russians, for as to the American adventurers who had hitherto enjoyed the traffic along the northwest coast, they would instantly disappear, he added, before a well regulated trade.
Then my 'fact' consists in this, that RUSSIAN liberalism is not an attack upon the existing order of things, but an attack upon the very essence of things themselves--indeed, on the things themselves; not an attack on the Russian order of things, but on Russia itself.
By my original statement that a Russian liberal is NOT a RUSSIAN liberal--that's the only explanation that I can see.
I must also admit," said the prince, "that I have not seen much, or been very far into the question; but I cannot help thinking that you are more or less right, and that Russian liberalism-- that phase of it which you are considering, at least--really is sometimes inclined to hate Russia itself, and not only its existing order of things in general.
When he saw Mack and heard the details of his disaster he understood that half the campaign was lost, understood all the difficulties of the Russian army's position, and vividly imagined what awaited it and the part he would have to play.
Just as Prince Andrew met Nesvitski and Zherkov, there came toward them from the other end of the corridor, Strauch, an Austrian general who on Kutuzov's staff in charge of the provisioning of the Russian army, and the member of the Hofkriegsrath who had arrived the previous evening.
Lord Greystoke," commenced the Russian, "by your continued and wanton interference with M.
As he turned to hand the worthless slip of paper to the Russian his glance chanced to pass across the starboard bow of the Kincaid.
I saw the Russian, Ivan, who thrust out my father's eyes, lay the lash of his dog-whip upon thee and beat thee like a dog.
So I gave heed to my brother's words; and when I was come to Nulato, and the Russian, Ivan, laid the lash of his dog-whip upon me, I knew I must not fight.
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