1 a : an artifice or trick in war for deceiving and outwitting the enemy
b : a cleverly contrived trick or scheme for gaining an end
2 : skill in ruses or trickery
Did You Know?
A "stratagem" is any clever scheme -- sometimes one that's part of an overall "strategy" (i.e., a carefully worked out plan of action). Clearly, we no longer limit ourselves to the original military sense of "stratagem" as 15th-century users of the term did. The military meaning can be traced back to the word's Greek ancestor "strategema," which is itself based on "strategein," meaning "to act as a general." "Strategein" in turn comes from "strategos" ("general"), which comes from "stratos" ("army") and "agein" ("to lead"). "Strategos" is an ancestor of "strategy" as well.
As a stratagem to get the kids to do their chores, Melissa persuaded them to have a race to see which child could finish first.
"With runners at the corners, Bochy unwrapped one of his favorite stratagems. He had Fontenot take off for second base on a pitch to Sandoval, then Torres came home on the designed delayed steal to give the Giants a 4-1 lead." -- From an article by Andrew Baggarly in the Monterey County Herald, July 16, 2011
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Word Family Quiz
What descendant of "agein" means "teacher" and is used especially of a teacher who is dull, formal, or pedantic? The answer is ...
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