[tak-ti-kuh l]
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  1. of or relating to tactics, especially military or naval tactics.
  2. characterized by skillful tactics or adroit maneuvering or procedure: tactical movements.
  3. of or relating to a maneuver or plan of action designed as an expedient toward gaining a desired end or temporary advantage.
  4. expedient; calculated.
  5. prudent; politic.

Origin of tactical

First recorded in 1560–70; tactic + -al1
Related formstac·ti·cal·ly, adverbnon·tac·ti·cal, adjectivenon·tac·ti·cal·ly, adverbun·tac·ti·cal, adjectiveun·tac·ti·cal·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for tactical


  1. of, relating to, or employing tacticsa tactical error
  2. (of weapons, attacks, etc) used in or supporting limited military operationsa tactical missile; tactical bombing
  3. skilful or diplomatica tactical manoeuvre
Derived Formstactically, adverb
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

Word Origin and History for tactical

1560s, from Modern Latin tactica (see tactics); in reference to nuclear weapons (opposed to strategic) it is recorded from 1957. Related: Tactically.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper