\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

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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

Many experts believe the threats are negotiating ploys and the two countries are likely to settle the feud in coming weeks, or at least scale back the tariffs. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "U.S.-China trade fight likely a blip for economy — if it doesn't escalate," 4 Apr. 2018 The organic food movement grew from a global need to reduce chemicals and toxins in the environment and in our food, but has ended up at times just a marketing ploy to justify exorbitant pricing. Celine Semaan, The Cut, "Understanding Sustainability Means Talking About Colonialism," 7 Feb. 2018 They've been exposed to hunters' ploys and the danger associated with them since early September, when waterfowl seasons opened in Canada. Shannon Tompkins, Houston Chronicle, "Concealment, patience key for hunters as waterfowl season ends," 17 Jan. 2018 The World Is Yours, could this all be a ploy to increase hype leading into the project, or is there actually some malice behind the disagreement? Michael Saponara, Billboard, "A Timeline of Rich The Kid's Feud With Lil Uzi Vert," 1 Mar. 2018 Berenson has a hunch the fake photo is the work of a Russian propagandist who pulled a similar ploy in the Ukraine two years before. David Zurawik,, "Now the Russians are meddling in our TV programming, too," 21 Mar. 2018 Boeing’s tough talk may be partly a negotiating ploy. Dominic Gates, The Seattle Times, "Boeing’s biggest trade fight could spark a U.S. confrontation with Europe," 12 Feb. 2018 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

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.

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First Known Use of ploy

1697, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ploy

probably from employ

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Dictionary Entries near ploy


plow up






Statistics for ploy

Last Updated

2 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ploy

The first known use of ploy was in 1697

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on ploy

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ploy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ploy

Spanish Central: Translation of ploy

Nglish: Translation of ploy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ploy for Arabic Speakers

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).


to make faulty or ineffective

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