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). The word stratagem entered English in the 15th century and was originally used in reference to some artifice, such as a military plan or maneuver, which was designed to deceive or outwit the enemy. This military sense can be traced back to the word's Greek ancestor stratēgēma, which is itself based on stratēgein, meaning "to act as a general." Stratēgein, in turn, comes from stratēgos (meaning "general"), which comes from stratos ("camp" or "army") and agein ("to lead"). Stratēgos 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.
"Perpetrators always have at their disposal a set of self-exculpatory stratagems that they can use to reframe their actions as provoked, justified, involuntary, or inconsequential." — Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature, 2011
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