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

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”
Recent Examples on the Web In the American Civil War, Southern rebels used all manner of subterfuge to try and break a tight Union naval blockade and threaten Union shipping at sea. Craig Hooper, Forbes, 8 June 2022 In our interview, the Edge and Bono talked about everything the subterfuge of sneaking serious themes into family-friendly animation to where U2’s recording and touring status is at. Chris Willman, Variety, 28 Jan. 2022 But the South Korean official and missile experts said further close analysis of images in North Korean state media of last week's launch gave two potential clues relating to Pyongyang's alleged subterfuge. Brad Lendon And Gawon Bae, CNN, 31 Mar. 2022 The 36-page, six-count criminal complaint, filed in federal court Tuesday, alleges that Branson’s subterfuge began in 2011. Michael Ruiz, Fox News, 9 Mar. 2022 Season 6 begins with the married attorneys partnering for a complex bit of subterfuge. Darren Franich,, 4 Apr. 2022 But there can also be joy in that survival, as well as a playful sense of subterfuge — a willingness to defy norms and break rules that Haroun pointedly frames not as a wrong but as a moral imperative. Los Angeles Times, 17 Feb. 2022 As for the cyberattacks, Ukraine has no doubt who’s behind the mischief: Russia, known worldwide for its legions of hackers and online subterfuge, including a disinformation campaign aimed at disrupting the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times, 23 Feb. 2022 In 2014, the Kremlin’s subterfuge allowed Russian forces stripped of identifying markings to capture Crimea without firing a single shot. New York Times, 18 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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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The first known use of subterfuge was in 1573

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Last Updated

1 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Subterfuge.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

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Nglish: Translation of subterfuge for Spanish Speakers


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