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

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 The second stratagem is to close the microscopic pores — stomates — found mostly on the undersides of the leaves. Adrian Higgins, Washington Post, "Trees can’t escape the extreme heat. But they do have some clever coping mechanisms.," 20 July 2019 Thankfully, that unimaginative stratagem has largely come and gone, and its next iteration has appeared in Seoul, where the city’s Fall 2019 Fashion Week wrapped up on Sunday. Vogue, "Off-Beat Twins Get the Win at Seoul Fashion Week," 25 Mar. 2019 When his stratagems work, or simply seem to work, he’s heralded as a genius. Ezra Klein, Vox, "Republicans are paying the Trump tax," 7 Nov. 2018 While my stratagems were deliberate, the motivation behind them had been unconscious. Longreads, "The Cold War and its Fallout," 16 June 2018

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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Last Updated

7 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for stratagem

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

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More Definitions for stratagem

stratagem

noun

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with stratagem

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for stratagem

Spanish Central: Translation of stratagem

Nglish: Translation of stratagem for Spanish Speakers

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