brink·​man·​ship | \ˈbriŋk-mən-ˌship \
variants: or less commonly brinksmanship \ ˈbriŋ(k)s-​mən-​ \

Definition of brinkmanship 

: the art or practice of pushing a dangerous situation or confrontation to the limit of safety especially to force a desired outcome

Examples of brinkmanship in a Sentence

two nations caught up in nuclear brinksmanship

Recent Examples on the Web

The insults and nuclear brinkmanship alarmed other world leaders, who feared war and a new nuclear arms race. Anne Gearan,, "Trump declares North Korea still a threat, despite his claim after historic summit," 23 June 2018 The World Trade Organization was created to prevent exactly this kind of bluffing and brinkmanship., "Using Game Theory to Explain the U.S.-China Spat," 21 June 2018 Trump must be wary; canny brinkmanship defines the Kim clan. Charlie Campbell / Beijing, Time, "Self-Championed Dealmaker Donald Trump Faces the Ultimate Test Meeting Kim Jong Un," 9 Mar. 2018 The pause in brinkmanship reflects the quandary now facing Beijing. Jim Puzzanghera,, "After Trump's new tariff threat, China may either have to blink or widen the trade war," 11 July 2018 Still, such brinkmanship, in the middle of the midterm election season, could cost Republican support in farm states that benefit from agricultural sales to Mexico and Canada. William Mauldin, WSJ, "As Nafta Deadline Nears, Four Scenarios That Could Unfold," 15 May 2018 The hearings come at a moment of brinkmanship and negotiation, with the world’s two largest economies repeatedly veering toward a trade war only to reverse course and edge instead toward diplomatic discussions. Ana Swanson, New York Times, "Businesses Race to Washington to Sway Trump on China Tariffs," 15 May 2018 That creates more certainty and reduces opportunities for partisan brinkmanship. Derek Kilmer, Time, "How to Stop Government Shutdowns," 24 Jan. 2018 Eight defectors — six living in South Korea and two in the United States — met Trump in February in the Oval Office, drawn into the very heart of the brinkmanship and political theater that led to the summit. Brian Murphy, Washington Post, "Outspoken North Korean defectors allow themselves to wonder: Could they really go home again?," 10 June 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of brinkmanship

1956, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about brinkmanship

Share brinkmanship

Dictionary Entries near brinkmanship








Statistics for brinkmanship

Last Updated

21 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for brinkmanship

The first known use of brinkmanship was in 1956

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for brinkmanship



English Language Learners Definition of brinkmanship

: the practice of causing or allowing a situation to become extremely dangerous in order to get the results that you want

Comments on brinkmanship

What made you want to look up brinkmanship? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


full of whispering sounds

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!