Is there a word that means cheating and legitimate at the same time?

For example: I play a quiz game and set the number of questions to one. So, I get 100% of my answers correct. That's cheating, but it's legit.

So how do I describe what I did in one word?

  • 3
    The above scenario you have specified is not at all cheating. Because, if you answer that single question wrongly, you are 100% lost. So, it's not cheating but legitimate. (Ethical) Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 11:45
  • 1
    Loading the dice,using a marked deck, stacking the cards.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 12:19
  • 24
    "Loading the dice,using a marked deck, stacking the cards" are not legitimate.
    – Prem
    Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 14:27
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    Depends on context. In the context of regulation and government incentives/dis-incentives, you often see gaming the system as per Prem's answer below. In sports it would be gamesmanship as per Papa Poule's answer. In the context of taxation the usual word is loophole as per Steve Jessop's answer.
    – A E
    Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 16:26
  • 2
    Some definitions of "to hack" may fit. Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 20:49

20 Answers 20


When a game has rules, breaking the rules is known as cheating. But some folks look at the wording (letter) of the rules and try to cheat without breaking the rules. So there is the concept of intent (spirit) of the rules. Folks who cheat, but do not break the rules, are breaking the spirit of the rules.

Some other phrases used are:

  • rules lawyering
  • gaming the system
  • exploiting technicalities/loopholes/ambiguous language



You've exploited a loophole in the rules.


You are "gaming" the system. Gaming implies that you are playing within the rules but in the way that the rule writers did not intend or expect.


Gamesmanship” is a single-word noun that seems to describe what you are up to.

I don’t think an adjective currently exists for this noun, but perhaps somewhere between “sportsmanlike” and “unsportsmanlike” you could coin and find a place for “gamesmanlike.”

Phrases could include “gaming/playing the system,” “bending the rules,” or “exploiting technicalities/a technicality.”


In this case it seems like you are outsmarting the system, so how about:


to avoid (defeat, failure, unpleasantness, etc.) by artfulness or deception; avoid by anticipating or outwitting

from dictionary.com


to go around or avoid (a city, obstruction, problem, etc)

from dictionary.com


I would call that cheap. The act itself would be employing a cheap tactic. Alternatively, your strategy could be seen as an exploit, in which case you would be exploiting.


Cheating or bypassing or exploiting all the possibilities and shortcuts is called 'hacking'.

In your situation you 'hacked' the quiz, if you need one word.

There is an expression 'to work something around' or 'to find a workaround'

This type of activity, exploiting workarounds and shortcuts is described as 'life hacks'


I think an expedient may suggest a neutral connotation:

  • Something that is a means to an end, especially when based on self-interest: compromised only as an expedient to boost his career. (AHD)

The Free Dictionary

also, but with stronger connotation, a dodge:

  • A cunning trick or dishonest act, in particular one intended to avoid something unpleasant:


  • 1
    How about just trick? Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 10:42
  • @JimReynolds I think "trick" is the best word for this in terms of common usage. You use a "trick" to win the game, or you "trick" your opponents. Please make this a unique answer and post when you have.
    – jfa
    Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 0:47

It's not clear in your example exactly who you're supposed to be cheating. But you can try:

outwit (or outsmart)

to defeat somebody/something or gain an advantage over them by doing something clever

In my opinion, it doesn't have a very negative connotation.

Source - oxford


You have taken advantage of the rules.


Literal interpretation/bending the rules might also work.

Roll a dice, the highest number wins.

Player 1 rolls a six.
Player 2 rolls a five.
Player 3 takes out a 20 sided dice and rolls a 19.

Player 3 is not cheating, since the rules don't state what dice to roll, but that's not what the rules intended.


As an alternative to gaming the system, playing the system sounds more natural to me in British English.

As well as exploiting a loophole in the rules, I'd like to offer creative interpretation of the rules and abuse of the rules.

The International Obfuscated C Code Contest (a programming contest) offers a an award for "worst abuse of the rules" which was famously won one year by a quine (self-replicating program) which consisted of an empty file.


Related (in terms of being popular and accepted)

to bank (slang)

The American Slang Dictionary - Page 25 James Maitland - 1891

Bank, "to play" (Am.), means to play against the bank or gambling house.


"creative [ something ] " could also be an option. This is cheating, but per the rules.



As in Gaming the System. You technically following the rules but not the intent.


A clause used by a former President of the United States to describe this approach to making a comment or a statement is, "legally accurate but not volunteering information."


Cheesing is one that's gained popularity recently, particularly in the gaming community, but I think it can be applied to anything. It refers to exploiting the game in a way that goes against the spirit of the game, whilst still being technically not cheating or breaking any rules.


You're kind of Metagaming.

You're not cheating at the game though, since you made up the rules. If you want to expand the rules and say that the inherent difficulty of the quiz matters then you would have a low score.


Perhaps "Gaining an edge" or "Gaining an advantage".

  • 1
    There is no cheating implied there. Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 15:12

What about one of these: Fabricate Embellish Tailor Doctor Refine

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    three of these fail the "legitimate" test and the other two need some information on how and why they could fit as answers....
    – Hellion
    Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 14:36

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