stratagem

noun
strat·​a·​gem | \ ˈstra-tə-jəm How to pronounce stratagem (audio) , -ˌjem \

Definition of stratagem

1a : an artifice or trick in war for deceiving and outwitting the enemy
b : a cleverly contrived trick or scheme for gaining an end
2 : skill in ruses or trickery

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Choose the Right Synonym for stratagem

trick, ruse, stratagem, maneuver, artifice, wile, feint mean an indirect means to gain an end. trick may imply deception, roguishness, illusion, and either an evil or harmless end. the tricks of the trade ruse stresses an attempt to mislead by a false impression. the ruses of smugglers stratagem implies a ruse used to entrap, outwit, circumvent, or surprise an opponent or enemy. the stratagem-filled game maneuver suggests adroit and skillful avoidance of difficulty. last-minute maneuvers to avert bankruptcy artifice implies ingenious contrivance or invention. the clever artifices of the stage wile suggests an attempt to entrap or deceive with false allurements. used all of his wiles to ingratiate himself feint implies a diversion or distraction of attention away from one's real intent. a feint toward the enemy's left flank

Did You Know?

A "stratagem" is any clever scheme - sometimes one that's part of an overall "strategy" (i.e., a carefully worked out plan of action). Clearly, we no longer limit ourselves to the original military sense of "stratagem" as 15th-century users of the term did. The military meaning can be traced back to the word's Greek ancestor strategema, which is itself based on strategein, meaning "to act as a general." "Strategein" in turn comes from "strategos" ("general"), which comes from "stratos" ("army") and "agein" ("to lead"). "Strategos" is an ancestor of "strategy" as well.

Examples of stratagem in a Sentence

tried various stratagems to get the cat into the carrier, but the feisty feline was wise to them all
Recent Examples on the Web Impeachment, then, has always been a political stratagem. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "Breaking Down the Fallout from Marie Yovanovitch’s Testimony," 16 Nov. 2019 But if people can move their wealth with one scan of a QR code to a digital coin backed by a reserve of low-risk assets – including bank deposits in various currencies and U.S. Treasuries – such stratagems won’t work any more. Washington Post, "Facebook’s Libra May Spark a Currency War," 20 Sep. 2019 Used with permission from Working Not Working Strickler previously discussed the mustache stratagem in a 2018 episode of the podcast Working Not Working, while in the midst of writing the book. Anne Quito, Quartz at Work, "How a mustache helped the co-founder of Kickstarter get over a creative block," 11 Nov. 2019 If geopolitics can be likened to a game of chess, there are a finite number of gambits and stratagems available on every board. Vance Serchuk, National Review, "Russia’s Middle East Power Play," 12 Sep. 2019 Yet, like Mongol missives zinging over city walls, the government’s threats are at once serious and a stratagem to frighten Hong Kongers into disowning the protesters and suing for peace. The Economist, "China is using Kublai Khan’s methods to quell protests in Hong Kong," 29 Aug. 2019 One of their most effective stratagems was the bankrolling of right-wing primary candidates for House and Senate seats. Bill Hewitt, Washington Post, "David Koch, billionaire industrialist who influenced conservative politics, dies at 79," 23 Aug. 2019 One of their most effective stratagems was the bankrolling of right-wing primary candidates for House and Senate seats. Bill Hewitt, Anchorage Daily News, "David Koch, billionaire industrialist who influenced conservative politics, dies at 79," 23 Aug. 2019 Putting yourself together The rubber chicken stratagem is an aspect of Kavanaugh’s philosophy about professional self-presentation. Anne Quito, Quartz at Work, "Carry a distinctive purse and other networking gems from design legend Gere Kavanaugh," 2 Aug. 2019

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for stratagem

Italian stratagemma, from Latin strategema, from Greek stratēgēma, from stratēgein to be a general, maneuver, from stratēgos general, from stratos camp, army (akin to Latin stratus, past participle, spread out) + agein to lead — more at stratum, agent

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Time Traveler for stratagem

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The first known use of stratagem was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

28 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Stratagem.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stratagem. Accessed 17 January 2020.

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More Definitions for stratagem

stratagem

noun
How to pronounce stratagem (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of stratagem

formal : a trick or plan for deceiving an enemy or for achieving a goal

stratagem

noun
strat·​a·​gem | \ ˈstra-tə-jəm How to pronounce stratagem (audio) \

Kids Definition of stratagem

: a clever trick or plan

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More from Merriam-Webster on stratagem

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for stratagem

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with stratagem

Spanish Central: Translation of stratagem

Nglish: Translation of stratagem for Spanish Speakers

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