What does monte mean in the term three-card-monte game? I have looked up the dictionaries but couldn't find any applicable answer, I'm afraid.

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    monte Origin early 19th century: Spanish, literally ‘mountain’, also ‘heap of cards left after dealing’. Sep 29 at 11:44
  • @MichaelHarvey Only there is no heap of cards in three-card monte.
    – Lambie
    Oct 2 at 21:56
  • @Lambie - lots of borrowings get their meaning changed in the process. Oct 3 at 5:54

1 Answer 1


Chambers has "three-card monte" "A mexican three-card trick", where "monte" is a spanish-american card game. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monte_Bank

  • Monte seems to be a denotation of a specific Mexican game, so monte seems to be a Spanish word, right? Hence monte in Spanish means mountain in my opinion. I don't see any correlation between this game and a mountain, do you?
    – philphil
    Sep 29 at 11:51
  • As I said, in the context of the question "monte" is a spanish-american card game. The question of why it is called monte in Spanish seems to be answered above ... a little off-topic but welcome none the less. Sep 29 at 12:07
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    @philphil - a pile, stack, or 'mountain' of cards. Sep 29 at 12:51
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    In the Spanish or Mexican Monte gambling card game the remaining stack of cards, called the "monte", is placed face-down in front of the dealer. Sometimes a monte box was used to hold the monte: Monte in English means the deck or stack of cards. However, you can't detect any card deck in the three-card-monte game. This denotation is borrowed from the Spanish Monte game.
    – philphil
    Sep 29 at 13:08
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    philphil - exactly as i said in my answer. Any idea why it was marked down? Sep 29 at 13:09

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