tactic

noun
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

tactic

adjective

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 If the President cannot get 50 Democratic votes, even apparently uncertain efforts to pass it with a budget tactic known as reconciliation could be in doubt. Stephen Collinson, CNN, "Biden's big climate pledge is another promise it will be hard to honor," 23 Apr. 2021 Tasia Williams marched on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge on June 1 with hundreds of protesters when law enforcement stopped the group and used a tactic known as kettling. Cassandra Jaramillo, Dallas News, "Civil rights attorneys file lawsuit against Dallas, Chief Hall and Police Department following protests," 11 June 2020 Friday marked the first time the city’s police, who have been dealing with near nightly protests since last spring, have used the perimeter tactic, FOX 12 reported. Fox News, "Portland police surround, detain rioters caught smashing windows," 13 Mar. 2021 When massive demonstrations against racial injustice erupted across the nation last summer, protesters used an increasingly common tactic to draw attention to their cause: swarming out onto major roads to temporarily paralyze traffic. Sean Murphy, chicagotribune.com, "Republican politicians across the US propose legislation that would protect drivers who hit protestors," 20 Feb. 2021 Roy, a conservative firebrand, used the tactic to underscore his opposition to the efforts by some Republicans – including several Texans – to not certify Biden’s victory on Wednesday. Tom Benning, Dallas News, "Chip Roy objects to seating 67 lawmakers from states Trump disputes to highlight GOP election hypocrisy," 4 Jan. 2021 However, the Russians have used the tactic of compromising a third-party software update process before, in 2017. Paulo Shakarian, The Conversation, "The Sunburst hack was massive and devastating – 5 observations from a cybersecurity expert," 29 Dec. 2020 One tactic commonly used by low-cost carriers that is being tried by full-service airlines involves adding point-to-point flights opportunistically based on the latest demand trends. Tom Stalnaker, CNN, "Despite big travel numbers, airlines aren't roaring back yet," 13 Apr. 2021 Biden’s big rescue plan used the tactic of budget reconciliation, which requires only a simple majority of Senate votes, rather than the 60 percent needed to force a vote on standard legislation. Robert Kuttner, The New York Review of Books, "Dividends of a Just Economy," 13 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Shifting the blame is a tactic familiar halfway across the globe, in the United States, where Mr. Trump commonly blamed China for originating the virus, and state governors for their containment policies. Sara Miller Llana, The Christian Science Monitor, "Global populism: Big promises, poor pandemic results," 30 Apr. 2021 Nelson noted that the Minneapolis police department taught officers defensive tactic techniques that included restraining someone on the ground as a way to control them, citing the testimony of a police trainer. Erin Donaghue, CBS News, "Jury begins deliberations after closing arguments in Derek Chauvin trial," 20 Apr. 2021 The tactic ensnared scores of unsuspecting Trump loyalists — retirees, military veterans, nurses and even experienced political operatives. The Salt Lake Tribune, "How Trump steered supporters into millions of unwitting donations," 4 Apr. 2021 The tactic ensnared scores of unsuspecting Trump loyalists — retirees, military veterans, nurses and even experienced political operatives. The Salt Lake Tribune, "How Trump steered supporters into millions of unwitting donations," 4 Apr. 2021 The Times’ Shane Goldmacher writes: The tactic ensnared scores of unsuspecting Trump loyalists—retirees, military veterans, nurses and even experienced political operatives. Lila Maclellan, Quartz, "How to spot design traps like the “money bomb” Trump used to dupe supporters," 4 Apr. 2021 The tactic ensnared scores of unsuspecting Trump loyalists — retirees, military veterans, nurses and even experienced political operatives. New York Times, "How Trump Steered Supporters Into Unwitting Donations," 3 Apr. 2021 The tactic ensnared scores of unsuspecting Trump loyalists — retirees, military veterans, nurses and even experienced political operatives. Shane Goldmacher New York Times, Star Tribune, "How Trump steered supporters into unwitting donations," 3 Apr. 2021 After the election, Mooney led a successful campaign to ban donors from using limited liability companies, or LLCs, to make multiple maximum donations, a tactic Cranley’s campaign employed to raise large sums in the mayoral election. Dan Horn, The Enquirer, "Investigation: How campaign cash flowed to Cranley from Liberty and Elm project team," 24 Mar. 2021

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

Noun

1640, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1871, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for tactic

Noun

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

Adjective

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

6 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Tactic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tactic. Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for tactic

tactic

noun

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

tactic

noun
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!

tactic

adjective
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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