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[ploi] /plɔɪ/
a maneuver or stratagem, as in conversation, to gain the advantage.
verb (used with object)
Military Archaic. to move (troops) from a line into a column.
Compare deploy.
verb (used without object)
Military Archaic. to move from a line into a column.
Origin of ploy
1475-85; earlier ploye to bend < Middle French ployer (French plier) < Latin plicāre to fold, ply2; see deploy
Related forms
counterploy, noun
1. tactic, ruse, subterfuge, wile, gambit. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for ploy
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There is a misprint of 'employ' in Thomas Davies' edition, as before.

  • If I was a stone or two lighter, and had one to look after the shop, it's off on this ploy I would be too.

    The Lost Pibroch Neil Munro
  • He put the question roughly, for nobody likes to lose a ploy.

    The Lost Pibroch Neil Munro
  • There were more again who could never bear to be absent from any ploy: Pepa Frias, Lola, and a few more.

    Froth Armando Palacio Valds
  • The night before they touched at Naples Marcella and Louis arranged what she called a "ploy."


    M. Leonora Eyles
British Dictionary definitions for ploy


a manoeuvre or tactic in a game, conversation, etc; stratagem; gambit
any business, job, hobby, etc, with which one is occupied: angling is his latest ploy
(mainly Brit) a frolic, escapade, or practical joke
Word Origin
C18: originally Scot and northern English, perhaps from obsolete n sense of employ meaning an occupation
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for ploy

1722, "anything with which one amuses oneself," Scottish and northern England dialect, possibly a shortened form of employ or deploy. Popularized in the sense "move or gambit made to gain advantage" by British humorist Stephen Potter (1900-1969).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for ploy



A device or stratagem; a move, esp one designed to disconcert an opponent while keeping one's position; a shrewd maneuver

[1722+; apparently fr Scots dialect; popularized by the late British humorist Stephen Potter]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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