divide and conquer

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From Latin divide et impera.


divide and conquer (third-person singular simple present divides and conquers, present participle dividing and conquering, simple past and past participle divided and conquered)

  1. To use a combination of political, military and economic strategies that aim to gain and maintain power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into chunks that individually have less power than the one implementing the strategy.
    • 2020 December 2, Philip Haigh, “A winter of discontent caused by threat of union action”, in Rail, page 62:
      It added that it can't begin pay talks without permission from Transport Scotland, and then cited a TSSA union survey of ScotRail that suggested that most of its members were against strikes, instead preferring job security rather than a pay rise. This prompted the TSSA to accuse ScotRail of trying to divide and conquer.


See also[edit]


divide and conquer (uncountable)

  1. A strategy for achieving political or military control.
  2. (computer science) An algorithm design technique that solves a problem by splitting it recursively into smaller problems until all of the remaining problems are trivial.
    The quicksort algorithm is an example of divide and conquer.


divide and conquer

  1. In order to rule securely, do not allow alliances between your enemies.