words or actions that are carefully planned to get an advantage over somebody else synonym manoeuvre a clever marketing ploy ploy to do something It was all a ploy to distract attention from his real aims. Word Origin late 17th cent. (originally Scots and northern English in the sense ‘pastime’): of unknown origin. The notion of “a calculated plan” dates from the 1950s.Extra examples a ploy for deflecting criticism Don’t take any notice of her—it’s just a ploy. It was a deliberate ploy to smear his opponents. It was all a ploy to distract attention away from his real aims. Maybe it’s a ploy to throw us off our guard.