subterfuge

noun
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 subterfuge succeeded despite guards making three overnight inmate counts. NBC News, 7 June 2021 Predraft subterfuge does nothing to cloud the obvious. Star Tribune, 28 Apr. 2021 And in a scheme built on deception and subterfuge, that could be more valuable than anything else. Daniel Oyefusi, baltimoresun.com, 3 June 2021 So too creativity, improvisation and even a bit of subterfuge. James S. Hirsch, WSJ, 22 May 2021 As a result, retirees today can use the credit line/annuity combo only through subterfuge. Jack Guttentag, Forbes, 19 Apr. 2021 He has been trained in subterfuge and destabilization in military intelligence for other countries. Eliza Griswold, The New Yorker, 9 May 2021 The subterfuge may last until observers get around to the side and rear-quarter aspects. Dan Neil, WSJ, 23 Apr. 2021 The need on that side of the ball is so obvious that Stephen Jones doesn’t even attempt subterfuge going into the draft. David Moore, Dallas News, 20 Apr. 2021

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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Time Traveler for subterfuge

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The first known use of subterfuge was in 1573

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Last Updated

19 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Subterfuge.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/subterfuge. Accessed 20 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for subterfuge

subterfuge

noun

English Language Learners Definition of subterfuge

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

More from Merriam-Webster on subterfuge

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for subterfuge

Nglish: Translation of subterfuge for Spanish Speakers

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