The roots of gambling don't exactly conform to most religious thought. We've previously found that hazard has origins meaning "gambling", associating risk with the act, but this is basically the exact opposite. Gamble went through a bunch of spelling alterations over its stint in English; there was gamel, gamlen, gamelen, gamenen, gaemnian, gamenian, and gamen. Throughout this hodgepodge of a transition, the semantics changed even more than the spelling. Originally, the Old English word gamen meant "entertainment" or "pleasure through entertainment". One way of obtaining pleasure through entertainment back in the Middle Ages was by gambling, and the word metynomically came to be associated purely with that. From gamen we move into the Germanic languages, almost all of which had the word gaman, meaning "sport", and that, like most Germanic, stems from Proto-Germanic, this from the prefix ga (sort of like "together") conspiring along with the root mann (more on mann later), meaning "person". This kind of translated as "people together", and since bringing "people together" normally leads to "fun", and one kind of "fun" is gambling, gamble developed. Mann comes from the PIE word man, which is obviously the origin of today's word and meant "person".
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.