Definition of tactic in US English:



  • 1An action or strategy carefully planned to achieve a specific end.

    • ‘This is our usual tactic, to let her wake up all the way before we go in and get her out of bed.’
    • ‘Once he spotted Dylan, his musical hero, at an airport and tried the same tactic.’
    • ‘His tactic is to approach strangers asking for money, often bursting into tears.’
    • ‘I mused over this for a few moments before picking the tactic I thought would reap the best results.’
    • ‘I am pretty sure this is a negotiating tactic to get me to buy him that drum machine.’
    • ‘He copied the tactic to win his first race and continues to ride with the same enthusiasm six years on.’
    • ‘There are signs that the tactic is paying off, even among staunch supporters of evolution.’
    • ‘It's a wise tactic, and one that helps keep her performances honest, raw and real.’
    • ‘It is a tactic that may be desired when taking on the very best in Europe.’
    • ‘At two schools at which he has used the same tactic, grades have improved through the homework ban.’
    • ‘This is a deliberate tactic to cover up the cheaper prices of my bus trips.’
    • ‘This isn't a bad tactic as it can rile players and make them make rash judgement calls in the hope that they can knock you out.’
    • ‘She says that not only does the tactic make the corruption seem less severe, it is less inflammatory.’
    • ‘It is an old tactic and the only one to resort to when you are caught the way they have been.’
    • ‘You do not have to accept an investigation that drags on for years - a tactic some inspectors use.’
    • ‘I am glad I was talking to him out of the window, as his next tactic would probably have been to jam his foot in the door.’
    • ‘A favourite tactic is to slowly move up and down the platform quietly expelling air.’
    • ‘I think it's just a deliberate tactic they use to keep the game at their pace.’
    • ‘Their only tactic seems to be to shock their client's way into the headlines.’
    • ‘So then I tried the tactic of being withdrawn and cool and the relationship just disappeared.’
    strategy, scheme, stratagem, plan, set of tactics, manoeuvre, course of action, line of action
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    1. 1.1also treated as singular The art of disposing armed forces in order of battle and of organizing operations, especially during contact with an enemy.
      Often contrasted with strategy
      • ‘After the war he defended what he did by writing the following article to explain his strategy and tactics.’
      • ‘Her part in the briefings related to tactics, posting of officers and health and safety.’
      • ‘It's science fiction but it gives a good inside on war strategies and tactics.’
      • ‘He grew to be a fine lad and his education consisted of the use of weapons and military tactics.’
      • ‘The effect was that they did not have a very good grasp of strategy and tactics.’
      • ‘Each of those battles offers a contrasting type of military tactics, terrain and drama.’
      • ‘His victory was not marked by a surrender but by a change of enemy tactics.’
      • ‘If you want to beat your enemy, you must know your enemy and study the tactics of your enemy.’
      • ‘It is all too easy to focus in the minute details of operational tactics and to miss the broad sweep of strategy.’
      • ‘However, tactics from this war to 1914 had not changed to fit in with this new weapon.’
      • ‘The American tactics relied on the peculiar characteristics of carrier warfare.’
      • ‘The Assyrian king had total control over the targets, tactics and deployment of his army.’
      • ‘Our tactics and logistics may indeed be weak, but surely we must protect our officers and men?’
      • ‘The Indian army used classic counterinsurgency tactics, taught to them by the British.’
      • ‘In both cases we start with solidarity, and participate in debates about strategy and tactics.’
      • ‘He later wrote books on military tactics, advocating a highly mechanised army.’
      • ‘This is not surprising at all, since the tactics used owe themselves directly to Israel.’
      • ‘British tactics as well as strategy tended to err on the side of caution, American on the side of rashness.’
      battle plans, plans, game plans
      View synonyms


Mid 18th century: from modern Latin tactica, from Greek taktikē (tekhnē) ‘(art) of tactics’, feminine of taktikos, from taktos ‘ordered, arranged’, from the base of tassein ‘arrange’.