sub·​ter·​fuge | \ ˈsəb-tər-ˌfyüj How to pronounce subterfuge (audio) \

Definition of subterfuge

1 : deception by artifice or stratagem in order to conceal, escape, or evade
2 : a deceptive device or stratagem

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Choose the Right Synonym for subterfuge

deception, fraud, double-dealing, subterfuge, trickery mean the acts or practices of one who deliberately deceives. deception may or may not imply blameworthiness, since it may suggest cheating or merely tactical resource. magicians are masters of deception fraud always implies guilt and often criminality in act or practice. indicted for fraud double-dealing suggests treachery or at least action contrary to a professed attitude. a go-between suspected of double-dealing subterfuge suggests the adoption of a stratagem or the telling of a lie in order to escape guilt or to gain an end. obtained the papers by subterfuge trickery implies ingenious acts intended to dupe or cheat. resorted to trickery to gain their ends

Subterfuge Has Latin Roots

Though "subterfuge" is a synonym of "deception," "fraud," "double-dealing," and "trickery," there’s nothing tricky about the word’s etymology. We borrowed the word and meaning from Late Latin subterfugium. That word contains the Latin prefix subter-, meaning "secretly," which derives from the adverb subter, meaning "underneath." The "-fuge" portion comes from the Latin verb fugere, which means "to flee" and which is also the source of words such as "fugitive" and "refuge," among others.

Examples of subterfuge in a Sentence

And the same kind of subterfuge that causes employees to open a virus-laden attachment could also lead them to unknowingly install programs that ship all their data to unscrupulous competitors. — Paul Wallich, Scientific American, July 2000 Williams has worn a wedding ring for the past decade. Originally it was a fake diamond used as a subterfuge during her days as an activist in Central America … — Annie Leibovitz, Vogue, February 1998 The first pool appeared on the scene in 1791, organized to manipulate stock of the U.S. Bank. Members of a pool contributed money, which was handed over to a single operator, who put into effect various strategies and subterfuges. He could depress the price of a stock, buy a lot at the low point, then artificially raise the price, and sell at a profit; or he might sell short, then depress the price and make a profit. — Kathleen Odean, High Steppers, Fallen Angels, and Lollipops, 1988 They obtained the documents by subterfuge. propagandists who use a kind of photographic subterfuge, superimposing one image on another to create a false “reality”
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Recent Examples on the Web

The lower court judges – all named by President Barack Obama – described acts of subterfuge and misleading statements intended to obscure the real reasons for asking the citizenship question. USA TODAY, "Supreme Court orders further fact-finding on controversial 2020 census citizenship question," 27 June 2019 However, while such luminaries as Kant and Goethe were never themselves caught red-handed in a massive whopper, their two most influential works hinged directly on the role of subterfuge in an enlightened society. Rebecca Schuman, Longreads, "On Truth and Lying in the Extra German Sense," 20 June 2019 But yearbooks are often places where subterfuge is used to express opinions and accomplishment, for both good and bad. Emily Bloch, Teen Vogue, "Renate Schroeder Dolphin Says Seeing Her Name in Brett Kavanaugh's High School Yearbook Is "Horrible, Hurtful"," 25 Sep. 2018 The activity appears to reflect increasing attempts by the Iranian regime to push its geopolitical agenda through online subterfuge. Dustin Volz, WSJ, "Facebook Pulls Hundreds of Fake Accounts Engaged in Coordinated Influence Campaign," 21 Aug. 2018 The essay pointed out the avenues blogs offered for subterfuge, for masking pain, but ultimately Matchar parsed the perusal of these blogs as a pleasure — and not even a very guilty one. Lydia Kiesling, The Cut, "The Evolution of a Mormon Mommy Blogger," 27 June 2018 To hear President Trump tell it, the Russia investigation could easily be mistaken for the latter — a hotbed of political subterfuge, complete with spies, sabotage, a deep state and corrupt prosecutors. Meg Kelly, Washington Post, "Video: The ‘scandals’ and progress of the Russia probe," 26 May 2018 Meanwhile, the heightened U.S. scrutiny, tied originally to fears the Chinese government could use Huawei for cyber-subterfuge, has unsettled some allied countries where the company has big business. Aruna Viswanatha, WSJ, "Huawei Under Criminal Investigation Over Iran Sanctions," 25 Apr. 2018 Rodgers' vision — pop played with the rigor and precision of jazz, using commercial appeal as subterfuge for big ideas — has waxed and waned in pop culture over the decades. August Brown,, "Nile Rodgers' influence stretches all over Coachella, beaming the sound of a better future," 6 Apr. 2018

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

1573, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for subterfuge

Late Latin subterfugium, from Latin subterfugere to escape, evade, from subter- secretly (from subter underneath; akin to Latin sub under) + fugere to flee — more at up, fugitive

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Last Updated

13 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for subterfuge

The first known use of subterfuge was in 1573

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English Language Learners Definition of subterfuge

formal : the use of tricks especially to hide, avoid, or get something

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More from Merriam-Webster on subterfuge

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with subterfuge

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Spanish Central: Translation of subterfuge

Nglish: Translation of subterfuge for Spanish Speakers

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characterized by aphorism

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