1. Deception used to achieve an end: tried to get her to sign the contract by subterfuge.
2. A deceptive stratagem or device: The meeting was a subterfuge to get him out of his office while it was searched.
[French, from Old French suterfuge, from Late Latin subterfugium, from Latin subterfugere, to escape : subter, secretly, beneath; see upo in the Appendix of Indo-European roots + fugere, to flee.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.