1. A fee charged for the placement of bets by an illegal gambling broker or establishment.
2. Frequent and excessive interest payments charged by an illegal moneylender.
3. The payment of such fees or interest.
[Early 20th century American slang viggresh, viggerish (originally attested in the meaning “percentage of a card player's losings returned by the house so that the player would not go home broke and would return to play again”), ultimately (via Yiddish slang) from Russian vyigrysh, winnings, from vyigrat', to win : vy-, out; see ud- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots + igrat', to play, from Proto-Slavic *jĭgrati (compare Old Church Slavonic and Serbo-Croatian igrati, Czech hrát, and Polish grać), of unknown origin.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.