Subterfuge refers to a deceptive strategy or device that is used to conceal or mislead. It involves the use of deceitful or underhanded methods to achieve a goal or to avoid something unpleasant.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



Trickery, deceit, deception, artifice, duplicity, guile, fraud, ruse, stratagem, wile


Honesty, truthfulness, straightforwardness, candor

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun subterfuges, subterfuge
Verb None
Adjective None
Adverb None

Example Sentences

  • The politician’s subterfuge was eventually exposed, and he was forced to resign from office.

  • The company used various subterfuges to evade paying taxes.

  • The spy employed a subterfuge to infiltrate the enemy’s headquarters undetected.

  • She saw through his subterfuge and refused to lend him any money.


The word “subterfuge” derives from the Latin “subterfugium,” which means “to flee secretly” or “to escape by trickery.” The word often carries a negative connotation, as it typically refers to a dishonest or deceptive method of achieving a goal.

Subterfuge is often used in the context of politics, where politicians may employ various subterfuges to gain power or influence. For example, a politician may make promises that they have no intention of keeping, or they may use manipulative tactics to sway public opinion.

In business, subterfuge may be used to gain a competitive advantage or to conceal unethical or illegal practices. For example, a company may use subterfuge to evade taxes, conceal its financial status, or mislead consumers about the safety or effectiveness of its products.

The use of subterfuge is not limited to the political or business world, however. It can be found in personal relationships as well, where individuals may use deception or manipulation to gain an advantage or to avoid confrontation.

Prefixes, suffixes, and related words can also be used to modify the meaning of subterfuge. For example, “pretext” refers to a false reason or excuse used to conceal one’s true motives, while “dissembling” refers to concealing one’s true feelings or intentions through deception or feigned sincerity. The prefix “sub-” means “under” or “beneath,” suggesting that subterfuge involves hiding something beneath the surface or behind a facade.