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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Senate Democrats have a similar tactic in place, planning to cite Republican officials and judges in each state that certified the results of the election. Nicholas Wu, USA TODAY, "What to expect when Congress meets to count Electoral College votes and Republicans object," 6 Jan. 2021 Other lawmakers, led by Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas, had been trying a different tactic to try to block Mr. Biden’s victory. New York Times, "Sasse Slams G.O.P. Effort to Challenge Election Results as a ‘Dangerous Ploy’," 31 Dec. 2020 For a day, Roku threatened to drop Fox’s apps, including Fox Sports, and publicized other ways that people could watch the game, a tactic often used in cable TV disputes. Patience Haggin, WSJ, "Roku Torments Entertainment Giants in Quest to Dominate Streaming," 17 Dec. 2020 The Fight for Democracy, about voter suppression—a racist tactic used to discourage Black votership. Brooklyn White, Essence, "Stacey Abrams Talks Trump's Futile Attempts To Overthrow Georgia Election Results," 9 Dec. 2020 A few days later, Judge Hill took a different tactic in Morfin’s case, staying away from the facts of the matter and the underlying allegations. Megan Crepeau, chicagotribune.com, "Prosecutors agree to drop murder cases against pair, but judges aren’t on board," 27 Nov. 2020 Biden’s running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, had some success in fending off the (somewhat milder) interruptions of Vice President Mike Pence by using a different tactic. Joe Pinsker, The Atlantic, "How to Debate an Interrupter," 22 Oct. 2020 Texas election laws allow candidates to carry over unused campaign funds from year to year, a tactic also used by Director Ann Snyder in her 2019 campaign and board Chairman Gordy Bunch in his 2020 bid for a fifth term in office. Jeff Forward, Chron, "Woodlands race sees Hannon top Rieser in financial support," 21 Oct. 2020 Nieto rolled back efforts to use the army against criminal drug cartels, a tactic used by his predecessor Felipe Calderon that led to massive violence. Anthony Leonardi, Washington Examiner, "Former Mexican defense minister detained at Los Angeles airport," 16 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective But that would mean Mr. Tavares would have to find ways to fill up the European factories with models that generate steady sales—a tactic Fiat Chrysler has tried in the past with little success, analysts say. Nora Naughton, WSJ, "Fiat Chrysler, PSA Aim to Complete Trans-Atlantic Merger in Mid-January," 4 Jan. 2021 Democrats have dismissed that tactic’s impact on their efforts to win legislative districts like this one and another, District 6, which spans from Williams to Flagstaff, Sedona and Snowflake. Andrew Oxford, The Arizona Republic, "Arizona Republicans are on defense to hold the Legislature, but here's where they see opportunity," 14 Oct. 2020 Highlighting a family member who has a preexisting condition is a tactic successful Republican Senate campaigns used in the 2018 midterms. Caitlin Conant, CBS News, "2020 Daily Trail Markers: 2nd presidential debate in doubt," 8 Oct. 2020 After Wilfred, hurricane specialists will begin using letters from the Greek alphabet to name storm; a tactic meteorologists have had to use only once before, in 2005, which had a total of 28 named storms. Richard Tribou, orlandosentinel.com, "Hurricane Sally threatens Gulf Coast with 9-foot surge, up to 30 inches of rain as tropics busy with 6 more systems," 15 Sep. 2020 If the tactic works then more indicted executives might use it. Spencer Jakab, WSJ, "Can a Company Use the Insanity Defense?," 11 Sep. 2020 However, chef Eric Cook found a different way to get his Lower Garden District restaurant open by hosting private events, a tactic more restaurants around town have adopted to resume business on different terms. Ian Mcnulty | Staff Writer, NOLA.com, "Marjie's Grill, Irene's, Who Dat Cafe reopen, outlook for Bellegarde, others still on hold," 7 Sep. 2020 Joe Biden put Republican voters who supported President Trump four years ago front and center on Night One of the Democratic convention, a tactic Republican operatives said could help move fence-saddling Republicans into Biden's corner. David M. Drucker, Washington Examiner, "GOP concerned as Democratic convention showcases 'average' Republicans backing Biden," 18 Aug. 2020 Birtherism is a tactic Republicans have increasingly used to try and devalue or discredit people of colour running for office. refinery29.com, "Birtherism Will Always Be A Losing Strategy For Republicans," 14 Aug. 2020

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.

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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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Time Traveler for tactic

Time Traveler

The first known use of tactic was in 1640

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Statistics for tactic

Last Updated

18 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Tactic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tactic. Accessed 25 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for tactic


How to pronounce -tactic (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of tactic

: an action or method that is planned and used to achieve a particular goal
: the activity or skill of organizing and moving soldiers and equipment in a military battle


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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