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From Middle English stratageme, from Old French stratageme, from Latin strategema, from Ancient Greek στρατήγημα (stratḗgēma, the act of a general, a piece of generalship), from στρατηγέω (stratēgéō, to be a general, command an army), from στρατηγός (stratēgós, a general, the leader or commander of an army). See strategy.


  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈstɹæt.ə.d͡ʒəm/
  • (file)


stratagem (countable and uncountable, plural stratagems)

  1. A tactic or artifice designed to gain the upper hand, especially one involving underhanded dealings or deception.
    Near-synonyms: ploy, ruse
    • 1837, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], “A Friend at Court”, in Ethel Churchill: Or, The Two Brides. [], volume II, London: Henry Colburn, [], →OCLC, page 265:
      She will not yet be permitted to return to the Manor House: it is too convenient for 'treasons, stratagems,' &c.; and it is as well not to be put in the way of temptation: but she will be allowed perfect liberty in London.
    • 2012 March 22, Scott Tobias, AV Club, The Hunger Games[1]:
      While Collins does include a love triangle, a coming-of-age story, and other YA-friendly elements in the mix, they serve as a Trojan horse to smuggle readers into a hopeless world where love becomes a stratagem and growing up is a matter of basic survival.
  2. Specifically, such a tactic or artifice in military operation.
  3. (uncountable) Military deception or artifice.
  4. (uncountable) Cunning and artifice in general.
  5. (obsolete) A violent deed.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • stratagem”, in OneLook Dictionary Search.

Old French[edit]


From Latin strategema, from Ancient Greek στρατήγημα (stratḗgēma).


stratagem oblique singularm (oblique plural stratagens, nominative singular stratagens, nominative plural stratagem)

  1. strategy; stratagem