Ministers and regulators bought the gambit hook, line and sinker.
- Simon Jenkins in The Guardian
This is, I think, a rare, almost extinct specimen of the correct use of the word gambit. It can't last because gambit is dead, it has fallen into the terrible linguistic oubliette of being a technical term that nobody knows about. A word cannot serve two masters: conversation and precision.
A gambit, technically speaking, is a series of opening moves in chess in which a piece is sacrificed for the sake of a positional advantage. Opening gambits are therefore tautologous. Saying "Nice weather we've been having lately" is not a conversational gambit, unless you are trying to trick a meteorologist. A gambit, technically, must have some sense of either deception or sacrifice. Otherwise it's just... well it isn't anything. It's a start.
But of course 99% of the population don't know that, so unless you're actually chatting to Kasparov it's utterly Quixotic to use gambit in its technical sense. Mr Jenkins, though correct, had to add the words "bought" and "hook, line and sinker" to frame the meaning. If, after falling out with someone, I call them up and admit that I partly wrong in the hope that they would do the same, I could call that a conversational gambit, but few readers would know the implications of the word unless I explained them.
So you're a fool if you think you can still use gambit correctly, but you will be thought a fool by some if you use it incorrectly.
The word is dead. Chess journalists, I suppose, can continue to use it. But for the rest of us gambit has spent two long splitting: retaining a technical meaning whilst wandering the mean streets of verbiage.
The same probably goes for a quantum leap. A quantum leap is a sudden movement, a sort of magical shift, but it is terribly, terribly, terribly tiny. In fact, it is the smallest shift possible in nature, which is why there is no between. I know that quantum physicists are not a large part of anyone's coterie, but why display your ignorance to the fury of pedants like a babooness in heat madly presenting her swollen rump to the mercy of the pack?
Oh, and a blueprint is not a preliminary sketch, it is the final plan delivered to the factory.
Is this who you want to be?