\ˈplȯi \

Definition of ploy 

2a : a tactic intended to embarrass or frustrate an opponent

b : a devised or contrived move : stratagem a ploy to get her to open the door— Robert B. Parker

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of ploy in a Sentence

Her story about being sick is only a ploy to get you to give her money. asking me to take her shopping turned out to be a ploy to get me to the surprise party

Recent Examples on the Web

Some, however, see the move as a negotiating ploy and predict that the organization will be back in North Korea before TB supplies run out. Richard Stone, Science | AAAS, "Major donor nixes effort to combat tuberculosis crisis in North Korea," 29 June 2018 That threat could be a negotiating ploy to restart talks on the North American Free Trade Agreement. Rob Gillies,, "Whiskey, ketchup and motorboats: Canada responds to Trump with $12B in tariffs," 29 June 2018 Congressional leaders were caught largely off-balance by the announcement and scrambled to discern whether the meeting was actually canceled, or if the President’s letter was merely a negotiating ploy. Brian Bennett, Time, "President Trump Canceled the North Korea Summit to Get the Upper Hand," 24 May 2018 Image From the moment it was announced in March, the decision to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census was described by critics as a ploy to discourage immigrants from filling out the form and improve Republican political fortunes. Michael Wines, New York Times, "Why Was a Citizenship Question Put on the Census? ‘Bad Faith,’ a Judge Suggests," 10 July 2018 Breitbart News, among the media's most Trump-friendly outlets, has portrayed Avenatti's expanding caseload as a ploy to stay relevant. Callum Borchers, Washington Post, "Michael Avenatti, now representing separated migrant families, denies he’s chasing the limelight," 21 June 2018 In January, mayoral candidate London Breed proposed renaming Portsmouth Square after Lee, a gesture that some interpreted as a brazen political ploy. Rachel Swan, San Francisco Chronicle, "Willie Brown backs off renaming Lotta’s Fountain for Ed Lee after public outcry," 16 Apr. 2018 This polarizing ploy to fire up the Republican Party’s conservative base ultimately failed: Bill Clinton won the 1992 election. Joy Press, Time, "Murphy Brown Is the Feminist Hero We Needed in 1988 — And in 2018," 1 Mar. 2018 Almost anything else is a pretender and a cheap ploy to capture a diner’s money with the lure of luxury that one connotes with the word truffle. Michael Nagrant, RedEye Chicago, "Clever Rabbit boasts flavorful cocktails, but veggie-centric dishes lack freshness and seasoning," 18 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ploy.' 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 ploy

1697, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ploy

probably from employ

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ploy

Dictionary Entries near ploy


plow up






Phrases Related to ploy

marketing ploy

Statistics for ploy

Last Updated

7 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ploy

The first known use of ploy was in 1697

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for ploy



English Language Learners Definition of ploy

: a clever trick or plan that is used to get someone to do something or to gain an advantage over someone


\ˈplȯi \
plural ploys

Kids Definition of ploy

: a trick used to make someone do something or get an advantage

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on ploy

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


lying above or upon

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!