I want to ask meaning of a sentence especially a phrase I have seen New York Times:

"President Trump’s vituperative tweet against Iran late on Sunday showed his determination to use the same approach that he took to engineer a diplomatic breakthrough with North Korea"

As I understand he would take similar action against Iran. But I am confused about "took to engineer". What exactly does it mean? Is that an idiom?

closed as off-topic by choster, user3169, Peter, shin, Stephie Aug 2 '18 at 12:40

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  • "This question should include more details than have been provided here. Please edit to add the research you have done in your efforts to answer the question, or provide more context. See: Details, Please." – user3169, Peter, shin, Stephie
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  • Welcome to ELL.SE. One of the expectations of Stack Exchange is that you demonstrate your initial research efforts; for example, looking up engineer in the Collins Dictionary finds the meaning If you engineer an event or situation, you arrange for it to happen, in a clever or indirect way, which explains its use here. I encourage you to take the site tour and review the help center for further guidance. – choster Jul 24 '18 at 20:37

The answer by user9570789 is correct, but I wanted to go into a little more detail:

There are two phrases in this expression, which can be used separately. The first is "take steps"

take steps (v): To do what is necessary to prepare for or begin doing something.


They took steps to prevent another fire in their hotel, by doing such things as installing automatic extinguishers in every room.

"What steps is the administration going to take to ease taxes on the average citizen?" the reporter asked.

Second, "engineer", used as a verb:

engineer (v): Skillfully arrange for (something) to occur.

Some examples:

In the movie, the twins cleverly engineered a family crisis to bring their estranged parents back together.

The prosecutor alleged that the defendant engineered a series of forged press releases in order to manipulate the company's stock price.

Put together, you get this variation on, "Trump took steps to engineer a diplomatic breakthrough."


An Engineer is someone who helps to design/plan/build things. Used as a verb, it means to "design/plan/build something". So, they're simply saying "...showed his determination to use the same approach that he took to design a diplomatic.."

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