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From Middle French subterfuge, from Medieval Latin subterfugium, from Latin subterfugio (I flee secretly), from subter (under) and fugio (I flee).


  • IPA(key): /ˈsʌbtəɹˌfjuː(d)ʒ/
  • (file)


subterfuge (countable and uncountable, plural subterfuges)

  1. (countable) An indirect or deceptive device or stratagem; a blind. Refers especially to war and politics.
    Overt subterfuge in a region nearly caused a minor accident.
    • 2010, Clare Vanderpool, Moon Over Manifest
      How’s the spy hunt going? Uncovered any subterfuge?
    • 2012 March 1, William E. Carter, Merri Sue Carter, “The British Longitude Act Reconsidered”, in American Scientist[1], volume 100, number 2, page 87:
      But was it responsible governance to pass the Longitude Act without other efforts to protect British seamen? Or might it have been subterfuge—a disingenuous attempt to shift attention away from the realities of their life at sea.
  2. (uncountable) Deception; misrepresentation of the true nature of an activity.


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subterfuge m (plural subterfuges)

  1. subterfuge