false flag

plural false flags

Definition of false flag

1 : a hostile or harmful action (such as an attack) that is designed to look like it was perpetrated by someone other than the person or group responsible for it In case you didn't know, a false flag is an incident that is designed to deceive people into thinking it was actually carried out by someone else.— Nick Giambruno … ex-House of Commons clerk Eliot Wilson argues in an article for the paper that "it does not take the mind of a conspiracy theorist" to imagine that Downing Street may have been behind what now appears to have been a false flag.— Joe Evans often used before another noun a false flag operationfalse flag attacksThe false flag conspiracy theory circulated widely after the riot …— Ted Sickinger
2 : a deliberate misrepresentation of motives or identity Maybe more troublesome is the fact that a small percentage of sources were recruited under false flags or based on coercion.— Nel Marais also : something used to misrepresent motives or identity The Russian hackers had attempted to blame North Korea, China and other adversaries as the culprit of those assaults through a series of false flags implanted in the malware that were designed to throw investigators off track. — Cynthia Brumfield "Craft" is a false flag, a depoliticization of art and thus an undermining of art's ability to change or even to question the status quo. — Jonathan Dee
3 : a flag used to disguise the identity of something (such as a ship)

First Known Use of false flag

1569, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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Time Traveler for false flag

Time Traveler

The first known use of false flag was in 1569

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Dictionary Entries Near false flag


false flag

false flax

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Cite this Entry

“False flag.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/false%20flag. Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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