Eg- He took advantage of the enemies weaknesses.


How about "to cash in on"?

E.g. But Adam and Eve, (the first husband and wife), our original human parents did not control their lustful cravings, and the serpent cashed in on their weakness...


"Play on (or upon)" could also do the trick, as well as the more formal -- yet idiomatic -- "avail oneself of" and "turn...to (good) account".

He played on his enemies' weaknesses, surprised them when they thought they couldn't be misled. source


Clever enough to discern the causes necessitating the cessation of treaty or war with an enemy, or to lie in wait keeping treaties, obligations and pledges, or to avail himself of his enemies' weak points, making jokes with no loss of dignity or secrecy... source

They availed themselves of the weaknesses, the selfishness and the self-interest of man... source


The politician of today knows men, and he knows how to turn their weaknesses to account. source


  • 3
    Good use of reference showing sample usage. Also see here. – Canis Lupus Mar 16 '14 at 17:08

Exploited means exactly what you are asking.

He exploited the dissension in the enemy ranks and crashed through their lines.

It is not idiomatic, though. It is an exact definition.


If you are looking for an idiom (like your title says), rather than just a word that means the same thing, this answer may be helpful.

First, note that take advantage of is already considered to be an idiom (as indicate by The Free Dictionary section on idioms).

Another is strike while the iron is hot, meaning

When you have an opportunity to do something, do it before you lose your chance.

This comes from forging iron. Obviously, if you forge hot iron, you want to strike while the iron is hot, as describe at phrase finder:

Act decisively and take your opportunities when they arise.

The expression is recorded in Richard Edwards', The excellent comedie of two the moste faithfullest freendes, Damon and Pithias, circa 1566

I haue plied the Haruest, and stroke when the Yron was hotte.

Using it in the context you provided:

Noticing that his enemy was traveling through a gorge, he decided now was the time to strike, while the iron was hot.


He capitalized on the enemies weaknesses.


How about made the most of? This is pretty casual American: Cougars made the most of the Eagles' defensive errors.

Alternately you could use took to task: this is a bit more British. Tottenham took Benefica to task. . .

  • I agree with "make the most of" However, taking someone to task isn't the same as taking advantage of them. When you take someone to task, you are criticizing or reprimanding that person. I think the example you cited is using the phrase very figuratively. – neontapir Feb 23 '16 at 15:56

Another option for you is he took them for a ride.

Implicit in the idiom is that they didn't want to go.

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