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[strat-uh-juh m] /ˈstræt ə dʒəm/
a plan, scheme, or trick for surprising or deceiving an enemy.
any artifice, ruse, or trick devised or used to attain a goal or to gain an advantage over an adversary or competitor:
business stratagems.
Origin of stratagem
1480-90; (< Middle French stratageme) < Italian stratagemma war ruse < Latin stratēgēma < Greek stratḗgēma instance of generalship, derivative of stratēgeîn to be in command, derivative of stratēgós military commander (see strategy)
Related forms
[strat-uh-jem-i-kuh l] /ˌstræt əˈdʒɛm ɪ kəl/ (Show IPA),
stratagemically, adverb
Can be confused
stratagem, strategy.
2. deception, intrigue, device, maneuver, contrivance.
Synonym Study
1, 2. See trick. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for stratagem
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • They could not understand the motive, and feared a stratagem.

    The Story of the Malakand Field Force Sir Winston S. Churchill
  • Will they not suspect, when once introduced to you, the stratagem that has been adopted?

    Night and Morning, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • He merely wished to keep us here a little while until he could by stratagem outflank us.

    Freeland Theodor Hertzka
  • The stratagem of the wily savage was thus perfectly successful.

    King Philip

    John S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) Abbott
  • They resort to every stratagem which a vile and savage spirit could inspire.

  • At last she resolved to effect by stratagem that which she could not accomplish openly.

    Henry IV, Makers of History John S. C. Abbott
  • Henry was compelled to resort to stratagem to effect his escape.

    Henry IV, Makers of History John S. C. Abbott
  • He perceived with dismay that the stratagem of his defence had given Anne away.

    Within the Tides Joseph Conrad
  • Shall I tell the reader how this stratagem first occurred to me?

    Confessions Of Con Cregan Charles James Lever
British Dictionary definitions for stratagem


a plan or trick, esp one to deceive an enemy
Word Origin
C15: ultimately from Greek stratēgos a general, from stratos an army + agein to lead
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 stratagem

"artifice, trick," late 15c., from Middle French stratagème "trick, especially to outwit an enemy," from Italian stratagemma, from Latin strategema "artifice, stratagem," from Greek strategema "the act of a general, military stratagem," from strategein "to be a general, command," from strategos "general" (see strategy).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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