tac·​ti·​cal | \ ˈtak-ti-kəl How to pronounce tactical (audio) \

Definition of tactical

1 : of or relating to combat tactics: such as
a(1) : of or occurring at the battlefront a tactical defense a tactical first strike
(2) : using or being weapons or forces employed at the battlefront tactical missiles
b of an air force : of, relating to, or designed for air attack in close support of friendly ground forces
2a : of or relating to tactics: such as
(1) : of or relating to small-scale actions serving a larger purpose
(2) : made or carried out with only a limited or immediate end in view
b : adroit in planning or maneuvering to accomplish a purpose

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from tactical

tactically \ ˈtak-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce tactically (audio) \ adverb

Examples of tactical in a Sentence

They gained a tactical advantage by joining with one of their competitors. He made a serious tactical error. The planes provided tactical air support for the soldiers on the ground.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Her terrible tactical strategies on the battlefield, particularly her failure to protect Daenerys' dragons. Ineye Komonibo, Marie Claire, "Will There Be More Dragons in 'Game of Thrones'?," 12 May 2019 But Bill Groener, who lived next door to the Harts back in West Linn, Oregon, believes that this was a tactical move on the mothers' part. Glamour, "Broken Harts, Episode 6: "Beautiful Black Boys"," 15 Jan. 2019 Combat boots of his own design finished the father of three’s outfit with a comfy and tactical approach to low-key date night style. Edward Barsamian, Vogue, "Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West Do Date Night—and Match Their Cars In Futuristic Fashion," 29 July 2018 These weapons were announced in May 2018 as part of a package to modernize Russian tactical and strategic nuclear forces. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Putin’s New Missiles Are Having Decidedly Mixed Success," 25 Mar. 2019 Federal prosecutors who have squared off against a group of antigovernment ranchers in the Northwest in recent years are set to return to court this month, this time to go after one of their own—a member of an elite tactical FBI team. Jim Carlton, WSJ, "FBI Agent Goes on Trial for Lying About Deadly Shooting in Bundy Standoff," 22 July 2018 The Department of Justice will likely prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange; North Korea’s leader supervises the testing of an ultramodern tactical weapon. Stavros Agorakis, Vox, "Vox Sentences: A government secret Julian Assange wants no part of," 17 Nov. 2018 Finely tuned motion, solid gun mechanics, and comfortable rotation and walking speeds are the primary drivers of this tactical-team shooter, which otherwise plays like a standard, asymmetric Counter Strike clone. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Feel better about your PlayStation VR with sweet new games Astro Bot, Firewall," 11 Oct. 2018 Negotiation and tactical teams are at the apartment complex, which is near Southwest 185th Avenue and Johnson Street, said Deputy Jeff Talbot, a Washington County Sheriff's Office spokesman. Everton Bailey Jr., OregonLive.com, "Police seeking suspect in shooting near Beaverton," 11 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tactical.' 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 tactical

1570, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tactical

Statistics for tactical

Last Updated

3 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tactical

The first known use of tactical was in 1570

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for tactical



English Language Learners Definition of tactical

: of, relating to, or used for a specific plan that is created to achieve a particular goal in war, politics, etc.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on tactical

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tactical

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tactical

Spanish Central: Translation of tactical

Nglish: Translation of tactical for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tactical for Arabic Speakers

Comments on tactical

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


a device or gadget

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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