subterfuge

noun
sub·ter·fuge | \ ˈsəb-tər-ˌfyüj \

Definition of subterfuge 

1 : deception by artifice or stratagem in order to conceal, escape, or evade

2 : a deceptive device or stratagem

Keep scrolling for more

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”
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Volkswagen has been hit hardest in part because of the sheer scale of the subterfuge, but also because VW officials engaged in a coverup that lasted nearly two years after the company fell under the suspicion of U.S. regulators. William Boston, WSJ, "Volkswagen Fined $1.17 Billion in Germany in Emissions-Cheating Scandal," 13 June 2018 Bell’s response was to express outrage at the B.I.J.’s subterfuge. Ed Caesar, The New Yorker, "The Reputation-Laundering Firm That Ruined Its Own Reputation," 25 May 2018 Nuclear subterfuge has eroded public trust, debate, and decision making alike. Fred Pearce, Time, "How the 'Compulsive Secrecy’ of the Atomic Age Has Changed the Way We Think," 22 May 2018 That sort of federal subterfuge is par for the course. Brian Barrett, WIRED, "How the US Government Secretly Sold 'Spy Phones' to Suspects," 13 July 2018 Before his confirmation, Mattis warned of Russia's intent to break the Atlantic alliance and use subterfuge to expand its influence in the West. Missy Ryan, Greg Jaffe, Anchorage Daily News, "At summit, Mattis faces uphill battle," 10 July 2018 Before his confirmation, Mattis warned of Russia’s intent to break the Atlantic alliance and use subterfuge to expand its influence in the West. Missy Ryan And Greg Jaffe, Washington Post, "Trump’s combative words on NATO put Mattis in an increasingly tough spot," 9 July 2018 More often, Russians intermingle financial dealings with political subterfuge in a complex web that appears superficially legitimate. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Will Trump Be Meeting With His Counterpart — Or His Handler?," 8 July 2018 The secrecy and subterfuge that shrouded parts of Kim Jong Un’s Singapore sojourn this week underscored North Korea’s obsession with the safety of its supreme leader. Chun Han Wong, WSJ, "Flying Sly: Secretive Kim Jong Un Makes It Hard to Roll Out the Red Carpet," 14 June 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about subterfuge

Share subterfuge

Listen to Our Podcast about subterfuge

Statistics for subterfuge

Last Updated

10 Aug 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for subterfuge

The first known use of subterfuge was in 1573

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for subterfuge

subterfuge

noun

English Language Learners Definition of subterfuge

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on subterfuge

What made you want to look up subterfuge? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

the setting in which something occurs

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!