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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, tactic (see synonym study at strategy)
1, 2. See trick. 2. deception, intrigue, device, maneuver, contrivance. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for stratagem
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This man I caught by stratagem and in such a manner as to win over to my side his favorite.

  • Let no one know that I have come, for I must slay the suitors by stratagem.

  • And the Jews devised a stratagem against him; but God devised a stratagem against them; and God is the best deviser of stratagems.

  • It cannot be overtaken by a horseman, and its capture is generally the result of some stratagem.

    The Giraffe Hunters Mayne Reid
  • The stratagem of the wily savage was thus perfectly successful.

    King Philip John S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) Abbott
  • This part of the stratagem was the most difficult to accomplish.

    The Riflemen of the Miami Edward S. Ellis
  • This memorial of a mother's love she contrived, by stratagem, to transmit to her daughter.

    Maria Antoinette John S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) Abbott
  • The stratagem was a good one, Demetrius, observed the grand vizier.

    Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf George W. M. Reynolds
  • To discover the members of this sect a stratagem was employed.

    Old and New Paris, v. 1 Henry Sutherland Edwards
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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