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

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