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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

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

Vatican roulette

n. the rhythm method of birth control. My parents lost at Vatican roulette, and I am the booby prize.
See also: roulette
References in periodicals archive ?
Although this suggests that the production of these wares could be located anywhere along this strip, archaeological evidence indicates greater quantities of sherds of Rouletted ware and associated wares in southeast India and the presence of more sites containing these wares than in the northeast.
The chemical analyses reported here suggest that the clay of the majority of the fine wares analysed (Greyware, Rouletted ware, Arikamedu Types 10 and 18 and Omphalos) came from the same or a set of closely related geological sources.
Only intensive survey in the coastal regions of south-east India with a view to recovering evidence of production sites, such as wasters and kilns, will shed light on the exact provenance of Rouletted ware pottery and its related fine wares.
A single source for South Asian export-quality Rouletted ware.
The Chandraketugahr-Tamluk region of Bengal: source of the Early Historic Rouletted ware from India and Southeast Asia.
Microstructural analysis of samples of Rouletted ware and associated pottery from Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, in F.