play Russian roulette

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play Russian roulette

1. Literally, to participate in a potentially deadly game of chance involving a revolver loaded with a single bullet, in which a participant spins the cylinder so that the bullet's location is unknown, puts the barrel to their head, and pull the trigger. A university student died while apparently playing Russian roulette with other members of his fraternity.
2. By extension, to commit or participate in 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 repeats it. You're playing Russian roulette every single time you get behind the wheel of a car when you've been drinking.
See also: play, roulette, Russian

play Russian roulette

COMMON If someone plays Russian roulette, they take big risks by doing something that might cause great problems or danger. Many organisations are playing Russian roulette with their greatest assets — their staff and their reputation. We're playing Russian roulette with our health, eating this rubbish. Note: If someone plays Russian roulette, they fire a gun containing only one bullet at their head without knowing whether the bullet will be released or not.
See also: play, roulette, Russian