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 Rather, President Trump’s own son is waxing subterfuge on a national television network loyally frequented by conservative voters. Sarah Midkiff,, "Here’s The Latest COVID-19 Conspiracy Theory, Courtesy Of Eric Trump," 19 May 2020 Less admirable societies reach for subterfuge and scapegoating to disguise the tragic nature of their dilemmas. Philip Bobbitt, Time, "We Have to Decide Who Suffers Most in a Pandemic. That's Complicated," 5 May 2020 More wholesome opportunities for subterfuge were catnip too. Benjamin Taylor, The Atlantic, "Being Friends With Philip Roth," 21 Apr. 2020 Air Force One, the plane Trump took from Andrews to Florida Tuesday evening, remained parked on the tarmac at Palm Beach International Airport as part of the subterfuge. Christine Stapleton, USA TODAY, "How Trump stealthily went from Mar-a-Lago to Afghanistan," 29 Nov. 2019 With the borders sacred, and the exact mixture of people within them sacred, considerable subterfuge and violence were now justifiable in defending the frozen state of this order. Thomas Meaney, Harper's magazine, "Trumpism After Trump," 20 Jan. 2020 But as with subsequent Russian military interventions, notably in Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014, the war began with an elaborate subterfuge orchestrated by Russian intelligence. Andrew Higgins, New York Times, "The War That Continues to Shape Russia, 25 Years Later," 10 Dec. 2019 That airless environment of secrecy and subterfuge is thick with smoke that emanates first from a censer hanging center stage before the play begins and then clogs the sepulchral shafts of John Torres' expressive lighting throughout. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Hamlet': Theater Review," 11 Feb. 2020 Or, does the subterfuge go deeper: Has the Townsend Agency always been secretly female-run, its founder forced into the shadows by a society that, as Stewart’s Bosley says at one point, wasn’t always ready for the Angels? Darren Franich,, "Charlie's Angels failed because the franchise era as we know it is changing: Opinion," 19 Nov. 2019

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of subterfuge was in 1573

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Statistics for subterfuge

Last Updated

14 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Subterfuge.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Aug. 2020.

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How to pronounce subterfuge (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of subterfuge

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

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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for subterfuge

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with subterfuge

Spanish Central: Translation of subterfuge

Nglish: Translation of subterfuge for Spanish Speakers

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