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  • Noun




Diana always got her way, even if she had to use subterfuge or underhanded trickery to get it. She appeared to be kind, but underneath her golden surface lurked the mastermind of a clever manipulator gifted in schemes, deception, and subterfuge. She would often use subterfuge or secret plots that were highly successful in getting others to do what she wanted.

Quiz: What is subterfuge?

  • A plan of action to cover up something.
  • A cruel personality.
  • An accidental meeting.

Memory Hook

Subplot? Huge Turf! My neighbor's subterfuge to annoy me was to employ a subplot of pretending to learn how to golf and sending huge clumps of turf sailing over my fence!


  • The Patriots' history in matters dealing with video-taped subterfuge for purposes of gaining a competitive edge is likely to increase the severity of any penalty handed down by Goodell. —Sports Illustrated
  • Today’s titans of industry are laid low not by ruthless competitors but by prosecutors gleefully waving transcripts of old e-mail, filled with suggestions of subterfuge. —Cooking Light
  • The nine-count indictment charges Jones, 45, with assault 'resulting in serious bodily injury' and with obtaining a controlled substance 'by fraud, deception and subterfuge.' —Los Angeles Times
  • The 'drop of blood' designation was also a commercial subterfuge given that those so labeled would not be spared from slavery, and in the post-slavery years earned a lower salary than white workers. —The Economist

Word Ingredients

sub- under, from below
fug flee
e used for spelling and pronunciation

Subterfuge is a “fleeing under” another’s eyes and mind in order to trick or deceive him “from below.”

Word Constellation