Definition of stratagem
1a : an artifice or trick in war for deceiving and outwitting the enemyb : a cleverly contrived trick or scheme for gaining an end
2 : skill in ruses or trickery
stratagem was our Word of the Day on 12/02/2011. Hear the podcast!
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
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.
Origin and Etymology of stratagem
Synonym Discussion of stratagem
STRATAGEM Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of stratagem for English Language Learners
: a trick or plan for deceiving an enemy or for achieving a goal
STRATAGEM Defined for Kids
Definition of stratagem for Students
: a clever trick or plan
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up stratagem? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).