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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Contracts that call for a kidney or eyeball in lieu of repayment are an intimidation tactic of yore and are no longer common, industry officials say. Victoria Kim Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 16 Oct. 2021 Throughout this year, our team has put more attention into TikTok as an advertising tactic. Forbes Biz Council Expert Panel, Forbes, 13 Oct. 2021 During the same media session Wiggins, 26, bristled after fielding numerous questions about his decision to refuse the vaccine, opting for an age-old tactic of blaming the media. NBC News, 1 Oct. 2021 The actor, 22, approached the boy, attempting to stab the ground as a scare tactic, but accidentally cut through the child's shoe, piercing a toe, police said. Fox News, 25 Sep. 2021 The stop fits neatly with the vagaries of running in a recall campaign in which the candidate himself is also his opponent, and a move to the middle is an unnecessary tactic without a general election in the offing. Washington Post, 4 Sep. 2021 As the right leans ever harder on waging eternal culture war as an electoral tactic, ivermectin has become its latest wedge issue. Natalie Shure, The New Republic, 30 Aug. 2021 At the moment, arguing that the vaccines aren’t actually FDA-approved is an easy tactic used to try to convince people that the vaccines are still experimental or were never properly tested. Hilda Bastian, The Atlantic, 23 Aug. 2021 The union drew further attention to a mailbox erected on site under a tent where workers were encouraged to deposit their ballots, calling this an intimidation tactic. William Thornton | Wthornton@al.com, al, 2 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Balancing this tactic figures to be tricky for developers. Washington Post, 10 Sep. 2021 One point of emphasis is not allowing Los Angeles to win loose balls in the middle of the field, which is one tactic Los Angeles has used to create scoring chances. oregonlive, 20 July 2021 Woodson, who is Black, is also wary because mobile vaccination events seem to take place in low-income Black and Latino neighborhoods — a tactic public health officials say is meant to increase uptake in these communities. Los Angeles Times, 26 July 2021 The federal and provincial governments tactic of turning up the heat with the threat of rollbacks on openings resembled the playbook of other jurisdictions such as Singapore where case numbers were kept low. Michael Bociurkiw, CNN, 20 July 2021 Laughter is a tactic many powerful women -- not just Black women but all of us -- have been conditioned to use to disarm the men who confront us. Roxanne Jones, CNN, 15 June 2021 In the wake of these national uprisings, another abolitionist tactic people are using to address community needs and solve social problems is mutual aid. Kandist Mallett, refinery29.com, 17 June 2021 He also was placed facedown on the ground for more than nine minutes while restrained — a tactic use-of-force experts criticized as dangerous and likely to have restricted his breathing. Kevin Mcgill, ajc, 27 May 2021 Illinois could soon become the first state to ban police from lying to minors during interrogations, a tactic advocates say significantly increases the risk of false confessions. N'dea Yancey-bragg, USA TODAY, 2 June 2021

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.

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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

21 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Tactic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tactic. Accessed 26 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for tactic



English Language Learners Definition of tactic

: an action or method that is planned and used to achieve a particular goal
: the activity or skill of organizing and moving soldiers and equipment in a military battle


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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