Is there a word to describe the competitive advantage gained from sabotaging a competitor, or more generally the advantage gained from dishonesty?

An example: Your office receives pamphlets advertising an office cleaning service. Your current office cleaning service steals and hides that pamphlet before an employee at the office can see it. What words can one use to concisely describe the advantage that your current cleaning service has gained?

  • 1
    It's called 'business'.
    – Kris
    Apr 26, 2012 at 16:29

5 Answers 5


I would call them ill-gotten gains. I believe this could apply to the intangible.

Obtained in an evil manner or by dishonest means: ill-gotten gains.


I can't think of a single word for unfair advantage, but I suggest the following:

  • The company had gained an unscrupulous advantage.
  • The edge was earned through dishonest/crooked/unfair/dodgy means.
  • As cornbread says, the company's advantage was ill-gotten.
  • I quite like 'unscrupulous' too - had a bit of a head scratch about it and I can't think of any words to replace advantage that have either a negative or positive connotation. The only way I can communicate it is to qualify what kind of advantage, or how it was gained.
    – tanantish
    Apr 26, 2012 at 16:30


They are the spoils of war.


Despoliation ("a stripping or plundering; spoliation") or spoliation itself seem like possibilities. The latter term has senses including

• The act of plundering or spoiling; robbery; deprivation; despoliation.
• Robbery or plunder in times of war; especially, the authorized act or practice of plundering neutrals at sea.
• (law) The intentional destruction of or tampering with (a document) in such way as to impair evidentiary effect.

Also consider terms like encroachment, usurpation, traduction, arrogation, ruthlessness.

  • Not sure if these words are related to unfair advantage....
    – Bravo
    Apr 26, 2012 at 15:43
  • @Shyam, the word unfair does not appear in the question. Apr 26, 2012 at 15:46

You could say that the cleaning company in your example has won a pyrrhic victory in that they may have gained a temporary financial advantage, but have undermined themselves as a trustworthy company.

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