a numbers game

numbers game

1. The use of mathematics to deliberately manipulate facts or results. The accounting in that company was just a numbers game, so it's no wonder they got audited.
2. A scenario in which an increase in a certain type of action should lead to greater chance of a particular outcome (e.g. success). Dating is a numbers game. The more people you meet, the better your chances are at finding love.
3. An illegal lottery in which one bets on the appearance of certain numbers, usually related to racing, in a newspaper or other publication. Primarily heard in US. Why do you think Grandpa was so poor? Because any time he had any money, he'd lose it playing the numbers game!
See also: game, number
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

a numbers game


the numbers game

COMMON A numbers game or the numbers game is a way of using figures to support an argument, often in a way that is dishonest or has no real meaning. She has criticized the numbers game which assumes that an exhibition receiving 5,000 visitors each day is better than one receiving 3,000. Note: You can also say that someone plays a numbers game or plays the numbers game. The problem in the Church is that we play the numbers game whereby success is marked by attendance figures. Note: In the United States, the `numbers game' or `numbers racket' is an illegal lottery. It involves people placing small bets on a series of numbers that appear in particular sections of that day's newspaper, for example the stock market figures.
See also: game, number
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

a/the ˈnumbers game

a way of considering an activity, etc. that is concerned only with the number of people doing something, things achieved, etc., not with who or what they are: Candidates were playing the numbers game as the crucial vote drew closer.
See also: game, number
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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