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1. The act of employing to the greatest possible advantage: exploitation of copper deposits.
2. Utilization of another person or group for selfish purposes: exploitation of unwary consumers.
3. An advertising or publicity program.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(ˌɛk splɔɪˈteɪ ʃən)

1. the use of something, esp. for profit: exploitation of oil fields.
2. the use or manipulation of another person for one's own advantage.
3. promotion; publicity.
[1795–1805; < French]
ex`ploi•ta′tion•al, adj.
ex`ploi•ta′tion•al•ly, adv.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. (DOD only) Taking full advantage of success in military operations, following up initial gains, and making permanent the temporary effects already achieved.
2. Taking full advantage of any information that has come to hand for tactical, operational, or strategic purposes.
3. An offensive operation that usually follows a successful attack and is designed to disorganize the enemy in depth. See also attack; pursuit.
Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms. US Department of Defense 2005.




all is fish that comes to his net See ABILITY.

butter one’s bread on both sides See IMPROVIDENCE.

feather one’s nest To look after one’s own interests; to accumulate creature comforts, money, or material possessions either through one’s own efforts or at the expense of others; to be completely selfish, totally unconcerned with the well-being of others. This expression stems from the fact that many birds, after building a nest, line it with feathers and hair to make it warm and more comfortable. The expression line one’s nest is a variation.

fish in troubled waters To take advantage of adversity, stress, or unrest for personal gain; to make the best of a bad situation. Fishermen often experience their greatest success when the water is rough. In its figurative use, the phrase implies that though things may be troubled on the surface, at a deeper level, the situation holds potential for gains.

grist for the mill Any experience, fact, discovery, or object with potential for one ’s personal profit; a seemingly worthless item employed to one’s personal gain or benefit. Grist is unground grain to be converted to meal or flour by milling. In the figurative expression, grist is anything that serves as the raw material which a person’s talents or abilities transform into something of value.

make hay while the sun shines To make the most of an opportunity, to take full advantage of an occasion for profit, to be opportunistic. Hay is made by spreading mown grass in the sun to dry, an impossibility if the sun is not shining both when the grass is cut and when it is set out to dry. A variant of the expression dates from at least 1546. It is often used as an admonition to be provident, as it was by an unknown American author in 1788:

It is better to make hay while the sun shines against a rainy day. (The Politician Out-witted)

milk To extract all potential profit from a person or situation, often with connotations of excessiveness or victimization. Used figuratively as early as the beginning of the 16th century, this term derives from the literal act of extracting milk from an animal by manipulating its udder.

This their painful purgatory … hath of long time but deceived the people and milked them from their money. (John Frith, A Disputation of Purgatory, 1526)

Unlike bleed (see EXTORTION), milk is not limited in its figurative use to money-related matters.

To overplay an audience for applause is called milking the audience. (Hixson and Colodny, Word Ways, 1939)

To milk someone usually implies taking unfair advantage, and is often heard in the expression to milk [someone] for all he is worth.

play the field To remain open to multiple opportunities by not restricting one’s role; to engage in a variety of activities, causes, etc., instead of focusing on just one; to socialize with no one person exclusively.

Japan Plays the Field. Peace and Trade with Everyone. (The New Republic, March, 1966)

In baseball, the outfielders have the largest area of ground to cover and therefore the widest range of playing room, a fact which probably gave rise to the expression. In addition, an outfielder often rotates among all three outfield positions. This American phrase has been in use since at least 1936.

seize the day To make the most of the day, to live each day to the fullest, to enjoy the present to the utmost; originally, Latin carpe diem. This proverbial expression of Epicurean philosophy was apparently first used by the Roman poet and satirist Horace. Both the original Latin and the later English version remain in common use.

The reckless life of Algeria … with … its gay, careless carpe diem camp-philosophy. (Ouida, Under Two Flags, 1867)

strike while the iron is hot To lose no time in acting when an opportunity presents itself, to seize an opportunity to one’s advantage, to act when the time is right. A blacksmith heats the iron he is working on until it is red-hot and most malleable before hammering it into the desired shape. The equivalent French phrase is il faut battre le fer pendant qu’il est chaud. A variant of the expression dates from at least 1386.

It will become us to strike while the iron is hot. (W. Dummer, in Baxter Manuscripts, 1725)

take time by the forelock To act quickly in seizing an opportunity, to take full and prompt advantage of an opportunity for gain or advancement. Phaedrus, a Roman fable writer, describes Father Time (also called Father Opportunity) as an old man, completely bald at the back of his head but with a heavy forelock. Thus, a person who takes time by the forelock does not wait until Opportunity passes before taking advantage of what it offers. The expression has been attributed to Pittacus of Mitylene, one of the seven sages of Greece. Variants of the expression date from the late 16th century.

work both sides of the street To avail one-self of every opportunity to attain a given end; to seek support from opposing camps, to court the favor of rival interests; to walk a tightrope or to play both ends against the middle. The phrase probably derives from salesmen’s lingo. Currently it is said of one who compromises principle in an attempt to garner some desideratum, who slants his approach or his pitch to align with what his listeners will “buy.”

In a crucial election year … was shrewdly working both sides of the street. (Time, cited in Webster’s Third)

Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1980 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.exploitation - the act of making some area of land or water more profitable or productive or useful; "the development of Alaskan resources"; "the exploitation of copper deposits"
usage, use, utilisation, utilization, exercise, employment - the act of using; "he warned against the use of narcotic drugs"; "skilled in the utilization of computers"
land development - making an area of land more useful
water development, water program, water project - making an area of water more useful
overexploitation, overuse, overutilisation, overutilization - exploitation to the point of diminishing returns
capitalisation, capitalization - the act of capitalizing on an opportunity
commercialisation, commercialization - the act of commercializing something; involving something in commerce; "my father considered the commercialization of Christmas to be a sacrilege"; "the government tried to accelerate the commercialization of this development"; "both companies will retain control over the commercialization of their own products"
electrification - the act of providing electricity; "the electrification of rural Tennessee"
unitisation, unitization - the joint development of a petroleum resource that straddles territory controlled by different companies
2.exploitation - an act that exploits or victimizes someone (treats them unfairly)exploitation - an act that exploits or victimizes someone (treats them unfairly); "capitalistic exploitation of the working class"; "paying Blacks less and charging them more is a form of victimization"
mistreatment - the practice of treating (someone or something) badly; "he should be punished for his mistreatment of his mother"
blaxploitation - the exploitation of black people (especially with regard to stereotyped roles in movies)
sexploitation - the commercial exploitation of sex or sexuality or explicit sexual material; "sexploitation by advertisers is notorious"
colonialism - exploitation by a stronger country of weaker one; the use of the weaker country's resources to strengthen and enrich the stronger country
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


1. misuse, abuse, manipulation, imposition, using, ill-treatment the exploitation of working women
2. capitalization, utilization, using to good advantage, trading upon the exploitation of the famine by local politicians
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002
إسْتِثْمار، إسْتِغلالاِسْتِغْلال
nÿting; arîrán
sự bóc lột


[ˌeksplɔɪˈteɪʃən] Nexplotación f
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[ˌɛksplɔɪˈteɪʃən] n
(pejorative) [people] → exploitation f
[resource] → exploitation f commercial exploitation
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


(= unfair treatment, of workers) → Ausbeutung f; (of friend, sb’s credulity, good nature, weakness)Ausnutzung f
(= utilization, of land, natural resources, technology) → Nutzung f; (of coal seam)Ausbeutung f; (of talent, situation, opportunity)Ausnutzung f
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[ˌɛksplɔɪˈteɪʃn] nsfruttamento
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(ˈeksploit) noun
a (daring) deed or action. stories of his military exploits.
(ikˈsploit) verb
1. to make good or advantageous use of. to exploit the country's natural resources.
2. to use (eg a person) unfairly for one's own advantage.
ˌexploiˈtation noun
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.


اِسْتِغْلال využívání udnyttelse Ausbeutung εκμετάλλευση explotación hyväksikäyttö exploitation izrabljivanje sfruttamento 搾取 착취 uitbuiting utnyttelse eksploatacja exploração эксплуатация exploatering การเอาเปรียบ sömürü sự bóc lột 剥削
Multilingual Translator © HarperCollins Publishers 2009
References in classic literature ?
In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.
The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world-market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country.
On the one hand inforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough exploitation of the old ones.
No sooner is the exploitation of the labourer by the manufacturer,so far, at an end, that he receives his wages in cash, than he is set upon by the other portions of the bourgeoisie, the landlord,the shopkeeper, the pawnbroker, etc.
It must not be forgotten that London has not the backing of great industrial districts or great fields of natural exploitation. In this it differs from Liverpool, from Cardiff, from Newcastle, from Glasgow; and therein the Thames differs from the Mersey, from the Tyne, from the Clyde.
That was the case at present, the only difference being that the competitive wage system compelled a man to work all the time to live, while, after the abolition of privilege and exploitation, any one would be able to support himself by an hour's work a day.
Their method of economic exploitation indeed impresses a trained and informed mind as the most frantic and destructive scramble it is possible to conceive; their credit and monetary system resting on an unsubstantial tradition of the worthiness of gold, seems a thing almost fantastically unstable.
The teeming and peaceful population of China had been "westernised" during the opening years of the twentieth century with the deepest resentment and reluctance; they had been dragooned and disciplined under Japanese and European--influence into an acquiescence with sanitary methods, police controls, military service, and wholesale process of exploitation against which their whole tradition rebelled.
"In your case, I fear, confession is exploitation by indirection, profit-making by ruse, self-aggrandizement at the expense of God."
Even to call life "activity," or to define it further as "the continuous adjustment of internal relations to external relations," as Spencer has it, Nietzsche characterises as a "democratic idiosyncracy." He says to define it in this way, "is to mistake the true nature and function of life, which is Will to Power...Life is ESSENTIALLY appropriation, injury, conquest of the strange and weak, suppression, severity, obtrusion of its own forms, incorporation and at least, putting it mildest, exploitation." Adaptation is merely a secondary activity, a mere re- activity (see Note on Chapter LVII.).
Exploitation of labor at the rate of a hundred and twenty-five per cent., that is.

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