1 of 2


plural exploits
: deed, act
especially : a notable, memorable, or heroic act
a daring exploit
a book about his youthful exploits
I took out the list of Professor Challenger's exploits, and I read it over under the electric lamp. Arthur Conan Doyle
About midnight the gang returned, with various articles of plunder, and talked over their exploitsSir Walter Scott
It used to be rare for C.I.A. employees to recount their exploits, or grievances, in print. Alex Berenson


2 of 2


exploited; exploiting; exploits

transitive verb

: to make productive use of : utilize
exploiting your talents
exploit your opponent's weakness
: to make use of meanly or unfairly for one's own advantage
exploiting migrant farm workers
exploitability noun
exploitable adjective
exploiter noun
Choose the Right Synonym for exploit

feat, exploit, achievement mean a remarkable deed.

feat implies strength or dexterity or daring.

an acrobatic feat

exploit suggests an adventurous or heroic act.

his exploits as a spy

achievement implies hard-won success in the face of difficulty or opposition.

her achievements as a chemist

Examples of exploit in a Sentence

Noun the fanciful exploits of the giant lumberjack Paul Bunyan once famed as an actor, John Wilkes Booth is now remembered for a single exploit, his assassination of Lincoln Verb He has never fully exploited his talents. Top athletes are able to exploit their opponents' weaknesses. She said the tragedy had been exploited by the media.
Recent Examples on the Web
Now that word is out that exploits are easy and effective, threat groups are likely racing to capitalize on the vulnerability before targets patch it. John Timmer, Ars Technica, 6 Nov. 2023 Her early efforts to fit in with the other kids, to match their athletic exploits, didn’t go well. Jack Dolan, Los Angeles Times, 2 Nov. 2023 The blues is a mythological genre, smuggling wisdom inside tales of evils and exploits which sometimes strain credulity. Hanif Abdurraqib, The New Yorker, 2 Oct. 2023 Fortunately for Thompson, his efforts at crafting his Vegas trip into the much longer story of the exploits of Raoul Duke and his attorney, Dr. Gonzo, had not entirely gone to waste. Rory Feehan, SPIN, 9 Nov. 2023 Resigning would also do little to ease the burden of being George Santos — his exploits serving as tabloid fodder, his name a punchline. Grace Ashford, New York Times, 22 Oct. 2023 Several Israeli companies are developing exploits that take advantage of weaknesses in the technical mechanisms that bombard you with ads online, Haaretz reports, allowing attackers to track people and hack their devices. WIRED, 16 Sep. 2023 Meanwhile, Curry’s later years were marred by health problems — a stroke, prostate cancer, and most recently, dementia, a condition that has seemingly not curbed his ability to tell stories about growing up in Roxbury, his younger brother’s basketball exploits, or his time as a firefighter. Danny McDonald, BostonGlobe.com, 12 Sep. 2023 What follows are the exploits of a twentysomething on the rebound: the Vegas nights with Paris Hilton, the Vegas wedding to a childhood friend. Lauren Michele Jackson, The New Yorker, 29 Oct. 2023
Somehow, the cultures that put in the work and sacrifice, ultimately building global economies, are the ones that get exploited. Florence O'Connor, Vogue, 22 Nov. 2023 That effort, by its nature, exploits the Native American and Latino communities in Española, N.M., near Santa Fe, while at the same time projecting their own righteousness as do-gooders for those same locals. Ryan Faughnder, Los Angeles Times, 21 Nov. 2023 In 1972, the government assumed the lease to prevent the house from being exploited for any glorification of Nazi ideology. Graham Bowley, New York Times, 19 Nov. 2023 This can happen through various means, such as intercepting your wireless signals, infecting your devices or exploiting your software vulnerabilities. Kurt Knutsson, Fox News, 18 Nov. 2023 But as railroads strive to move their cargo faster, that honor system, ProPublica found, is being exploited. Topher Sanders, ProPublica, 15 Nov. 2023 This relatively new approach exploits a general relativistic effect. Richard Panek, Scientific American, 14 Nov. 2023 Jared Goff exploited Chargers pass defenders by looking them off and completing passes against loose coverage, both zone and man. Tom Krasovic, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 Nov. 2023 About 1,500 Hamas terrorists were killed by Israelis, and their bodies, phones and weapons were exploited as an intelligence bonanza. Joby Warrick, Washington Post, 12 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'exploit.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English espleit, expleit, esploit, exploit "furtherance, favorable outcome, outcome (good or bad), undertaking, military expedition, deed of arms," borrowed from Anglo-French espleit, esploit, exploit "carrying out, execution, achievement, course, success, gain," probably noun derivative of espleiter, esploiter "to carry out, achieve, expedite" — more at exploit entry 2


Middle English espleiten, expleiten, expleten, esploiten "to facilitate, expedite (a journey), fulfill (a need), execute, complete, relate, explain," borrowed from Anglo-French espleiter, esploiter, exploiter "to carry out, achieve, promote, expedite, make use of, use unfairly, progress, succeed, act," probably going back to Vulgar Latin *explicitāre, repetitive derivative of Latin explicāre "to free from folds or creases, unroll, disentangle, spread out, bring into play, exercise" — more at explicate

Note: The Middle English form expleten suggests association with Latin explēre "to fill up, carry to completion, accomplish" (compare expletive entry 2). Latinizing variants with ex- have completely replaced earlier es- in both English and French. Earlier standard etymological dictionaries of French (Französisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, Bloch and Wartburg's Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue française) see the noun as the more basic form, going back to *explicitum, allegedly formed from the neuter of the Latin past participle explicitus (see explicit)—though the sense of the noun is active, not passive. Romance outcomes of *explicitāre are mainly restricted to Gallo-Romance (as Old Occitan esplechar "to make use of, execute, accomplish") and Catalan (esplet "harvest," espletar "to harvest"). Note that *explicitāre preserves only the figurative meaning "bring into play, exercise" of the root word explicāre, out of which French and English have elaborated further meanings. The sense "relate, explain" of the Middle English verb is not paralleled in French and did not survive into Modern English.

First Known Use


15th century, in the meaning defined above


1795, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of exploit was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near exploit

Cite this Entry

“Exploit.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exploit. Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
: a brave or daring act


2 of 2 verb
: to get value or use from
exploit your talents
exploit an opponent's weaknesses
: to make use of unfairly for one's own advantage
exploiting migrant farm workers
exploitable adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on exploit

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