tac·​tic | \ ˈtak-tik How to pronounce tactic (audio) \

Definition of tactic

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a device for accomplishing an end
2 : a method of employing forces in combat



Definition of tactic (Entry 2 of 3)

: of or relating to arrangement or order

Definition of -tactic (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : of, relating to, or having (such) an arrangement or pattern phonotactic
2 : showing orientation or movement directed by a (specified) force or agent geotactic

Note: Adjectives formed with -tactic usually correspond to nouns ending in -taxis.

Examples of tactic in a Sentence

Noun an effective tactic for solving crimes We may need to change tactics. a specialist in naval tactics
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Most financial professionals are aware of this tactic. Chris Carosa, Forbes, 13 May 2022 The use of rap lyrics as criminal evidence has become increasingly controversial in recent years, over concerns that the tactic threatens free speech and unfairly sways juries. Bill Donahue, Billboard, 12 May 2022 The deliberate war tactic resulted in a great lost of biodiversity along the coasts in the region and on marine life. Manasee Wagh, Popular Mechanics, 12 May 2022 One of the most infamous examples of this tactic involves the late rapper Drakeo the Ruler, who spent three years in prison as prosecutors tried to build a case against him for the 2016 murder of a man outside a party. Jon Blistein, Rolling Stone, 10 May 2022 However, this creative use of the tactic is a new peak. Thania Garcia, Variety, 29 Apr. 2022 The potency of the tactic has been magnified multiple times by social media networks that allow misinformation to spread quickly, often unchecked, and that tend to silo like-minded people into networks of falsehoods. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 11 Mar. 2022 Though sanctions are increasingly the cudgel of American diplomacy, the effectiveness of the tactic is debated — particularly as its prevalence has grown. NBC News, 25 Feb. 2022 Reiring and Winer advocated an acutely media-focused perspective that developed out of Conceptual Art and used a new kind of artistic tactic: appropriation — pinching images and ideas and using photography to re-review movies, advertising. New York Times, 10 Dec. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Nestled nearby, unseen by them, was an antipersonnel device, a deadly tactic targeting anyone trying to defuse the larger explosive. New York Times, 16 Mar. 2022 Mike Adams, Elan president, took the protos to ski area personnel for tryouts instead of simply putting them on elite athletes, a tactic many other companies have used to generate interest. Andrew Freeman, Outside Online, 21 May 2012 Lawyers who frequently represent companies and individuals facing federal scrutiny said the internal investigation is a common tactic companies deploy when government investigators are looking into corporate wrongdoing. San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 Feb. 2022 So too is humor, a tactic Bennani wields even more deftly and consistently in her work. Lori Waxman, chicagotribune.com, 25 Mar. 2022 Mirroring can also be a survival tactic for awkward networking events. Anne Quito, Quartz, 28 Dec. 2021 That tactic later proved central to Trump’s efforts. Washington Post, 4 Mar. 2022 That tactic later proved central to Trump’s efforts. Dalton Bennett And Jon Swaine, Anchorage Daily News, 4 Mar. 2022 The tactic works because both state and federal laws have created strong protections for religious freedom in the workplace. Karen Kaplan Science And Medicine Editor, Los Angeles Times, 8 Feb. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tactic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of tactic


1640, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1871, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for tactic


borrowed from New Latin tactica "art of deploying troops in combat," borrowed from Greek taktikḗ (originally modifying téchnē "art, skill "), noun derivative from feminine of taktikós "of ordering or arranging, of ordering troops in combat"; in recent use also as back-formation from tactics — more at tactic entry 2


borrowed from Greek taktikós "of ordering or arranging, of ordering troops in combat," from taktós "ordered, prescribed" (verbal adjective of tássein —Attic táttein— "to draw up in order [as troops, ships], post, station, place in order, prescribe, assess," of uncertain origin) + -ikos -ic entry 1

Note: The derivative noun tagḗ "line of battle" (and possibly Thessalian tāgós "commander") show that the base of the verb was tag-, which should have resulted in *tázein rather than tássein; the latter was presumably introduced from generalization of the voiceless consonant in the aorist and in derivatives such as taktós, táxis, etc. The base tag- has been compared with the Parthian title tgmdr (read as *taɣma-dára "order-giver"), Old Persian ham-ataxšata "they have put in order," Tocharian B tāś "commander," and (semantically much more distant) Lithuanian patogùs "convenient, comfortable," sutógti "to get married, ally oneself." R. Beekes proposes a verb *teh2g-, invoking a law to delete the laryngeal in order to avoid positing a base with *a (Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Brill, 2010).

Adjective combining form

borrowed from Greek -taktikos, after pairs such as prótaxis "placement in front, prefixing," protaktikós "used as a prefix" — more at tactic entry 2

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Last Updated

18 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Tactic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tactic. Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for tactic


tac·​tic | \ ˈtak-tik How to pronounce tactic (audio) \

Kids Definition of tactic

: a planned action for some purpose "All that kid does is cry and he gets his way." … "If I tried that tactic, my parents would just say, 'Grow up.' …"— Pam Zollman, Don't Bug Me


tac·​tic | \ ˈtak-tik How to pronounce tactic (audio) \

Medical Definition of tactic

1 : regular in structure of repeating units in a polymer
2 : of, relating to, or showing biological taxis


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