tac·​tic | \ ˈtak-tik How to pronounce tactic (audio) \

Definition of tactic

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a device for accomplishing an end
2 : a method of employing forces in combat



Definition of tactic (Entry 2 of 3)

: of or relating to arrangement or order

Definition of -tactic (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : of, relating to, or having (such) an arrangement or pattern phonotactic
2 : showing orientation or movement directed by a (specified) force or agent geotactic

Note: Adjectives formed with -tactic usually correspond to nouns ending in -taxis.

Examples of tactic in a Sentence

Noun an effective tactic for solving crimes We may need to change tactics. a specialist in naval tactics
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Officials say Russian forces are making modest gains and have resorted to one principal tactic: fire at any and all Ukrainian positions to leave nothing standing that can be defended. Alexandra Meeks, CNN, 21 June 2022 But the governor's decision was met with harsh criticism from Republican gubernatorial candidate Rebecca Kleefisch, who issued a statement amounting the order to a partisan distraction tactic. Ben Baker, Journal Sentinel, 21 June 2022 Authorities and human rights advocates say these cases are part of a larger pattern of Russian abductions and disappearances, a military tactic meant to terrorize communities and demoralize civilian resistance. Paulina Villegas And Reis Thebault, Anchorage Daily News, 20 June 2022 Authorities and human rights advocates say these cases are part of a larger pattern of Russian abductions and disappearances, a military tactic meant to terrorize communities and demoralize civilian resistance. Reis Thebault, Washington Post, 19 June 2022 Before the pandemic, some larger and multinational chains borrowed a tactic from these fast-fashion chains by producing smaller batches of certain items and then quickly reordering bestsellers. Suzanne Kapner, WSJ, 18 June 2022 Of those causes, the most fruitful course of action would be to increase America’s domestic energy production, a tactic the Biden administration has asked the industry to take but has been unwilling to support with meaningful policy. Dan Eberhart, Forbes, 17 June 2022 The Lightning kept coming at him, with just one tactic in mind. Filip Bondy, Hartford Courant, 12 June 2022 Their daily updates that highlight real setbacks are atypically honest by the standards of military press offices, a tactic perhaps intended to add a sense of urgency to their daily calls for heavy Western weaponry. New York Times, 9 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Exploiting the full range of motion on exercises like the dumbbell bench press and cable crossover was another tactic Laico used to place a greater stretch on the muscle and maximize the effectiveness of each rep. Philip Ellis, Men's Health, 6 June 2022 Employers often attempt to dissuade workers from unionizing by arguing that a union will act as a meddling third party in the employee-management relationship, a tactic Amazon employed in Staten Island. Washington Post, 25 Apr. 2022 Nestled nearby, unseen by them, was an antipersonnel device, a deadly tactic targeting anyone trying to defuse the larger explosive. New York Times, 16 Mar. 2022 Mike Adams, Elan president, took the protos to ski area personnel for tryouts instead of simply putting them on elite athletes, a tactic many other companies have used to generate interest. Andrew Freeman, Outside Online, 21 May 2012 Lawyers who frequently represent companies and individuals facing federal scrutiny said the internal investigation is a common tactic companies deploy when government investigators are looking into corporate wrongdoing. San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 Feb. 2022 So too is humor, a tactic Bennani wields even more deftly and consistently in her work. Lori Waxman, chicagotribune.com, 25 Mar. 2022 Mirroring can also be a survival tactic for awkward networking events. Anne Quito, Quartz, 28 Dec. 2021 That tactic later proved central to Trump’s efforts. Washington Post, 4 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tactic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of tactic


1640, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1871, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for tactic


borrowed from New Latin tactica "art of deploying troops in combat," borrowed from Greek taktikḗ (originally modifying téchnē "art, skill "), noun derivative from feminine of taktikós "of ordering or arranging, of ordering troops in combat"; in recent use also as back-formation from tactics — more at tactic entry 2


borrowed from Greek taktikós "of ordering or arranging, of ordering troops in combat," from taktós "ordered, prescribed" (verbal adjective of tássein —Attic táttein— "to draw up in order [as troops, ships], post, station, place in order, prescribe, assess," of uncertain origin) + -ikos -ic entry 1

Note: The derivative noun tagḗ "line of battle" (and possibly Thessalian tāgós "commander") show that the base of the verb was tag-, which should have resulted in *tázein rather than tássein; the latter was presumably introduced from generalization of the voiceless consonant in the aorist and in derivatives such as taktós, táxis, etc. The base tag- has been compared with the Parthian title tgmdr (read as *taɣma-dára "order-giver"), Old Persian ham-ataxšata "they have put in order," Tocharian B tāś "commander," and (semantically much more distant) Lithuanian patogùs "convenient, comfortable," sutógti "to get married, ally oneself." R. Beekes proposes a verb *teh2g-, invoking a law to delete the laryngeal in order to avoid positing a base with *a (Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Brill, 2010).

Adjective combining form

borrowed from Greek -taktikos, after pairs such as prótaxis "placement in front, prefixing," protaktikós "used as a prefix" — more at tactic entry 2

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Last Updated

23 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Tactic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tactic. Accessed 26 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for tactic


tac·​tic | \ ˈtak-tik How to pronounce tactic (audio) \

Kids Definition of tactic

: a planned action for some purpose "All that kid does is cry and he gets his way." … "If I tried that tactic, my parents would just say, 'Grow up.' …"— Pam Zollman, Don't Bug Me


tac·​tic | \ ˈtak-tik How to pronounce tactic (audio) \

Medical Definition of tactic

1 : regular in structure of repeating units in a polymer
2 : of, relating to, or showing biological taxis


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