When someone says 'I'll take these odds' I usually take it to mean something like 'I am confident I can overcome this challenge'.

To be sure I went to ask google to see exactly how phrases with the word 'odds' are used and I couldn't find anything resembling my understanding.

For example lexico says the following for the phrase 'take the odds':

Offer a bet with odds unfavourable to the other better.

This contrasts with the phrase 'lay the odds':

Offer a bet with odds favourable to the other better.

This is where it gets confusing for me, these are obviously some betting terms and I wonder if they can be used in the same sense as the understanding I stated above. How can one 'offer' a bet when he is 'taking' a bet? What does 'favourable' mean and who is the 'other better'?

1 Answer 1


Outside the context of betting, when someone says "I'll take those odds" they normally mean that they are happy with the calculated odds. That isn't necessarily the same as having the confidence in overcoming a challenge, although they are certainly not mutually exclusive. Many people actually take on challenges because they are difficult and the odds are against them. When a person overcomes a difficult challenge, we may say that they triumphed against all odds.

Remember, there are two reasons that people make literal bets - one is because the odds are favourable and they have a good chance of winning a small amount of money, the other is that the odds are so far against them that they have a chance of winning a large amount, even though the chance of that is very small. "I'll take those odds" is generally said about favourable odds; that is where there there is a good chance of success.

  • When one says 'favourable odds' does it refer to a high chance of winning or a high amount of money received? Commented May 20, 2022 at 17:47
  • @MichaelMunta Favourable means that it favours, or prefers somebody. So you would say that about someone with a chance of winning.
    – Astralbee
    Commented May 20, 2022 at 18:26

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