October 21, 2013
stratagem (noun)
\STRAT-uh-jum\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : a trick in war for deceiving and outwitting the enemy2 : a clever trick or scheme
How do you use it?
Before the snowball fight began, we went back to our side of the field to devise a stratagem for winning.
Are you a word wiz?

From what language do you think "stratagem" ultimately derives?

Your strategy worked if you chose B! The root word of "stratagem" is the Greek "strategos," which means "general," or literally, "one who leads an army." The Greeks used this word to form a verb "strategein," which means "to maneuver" or "to be a general." Generals have to think of numerous ways to defeat the enemy, and before too long, the Greek word "stratagema" came to refer to a military trick used to deceive an enemy. This word and meaning traveled through Latin and then Italian before it arrive in English as "stratagem." It developed an extended sense—"a clever trick or scheme"--about a hundred years after it first appeared in English.
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