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Related to trade on: trade down
trade on something
to use a fact or a situation to one's advantage. Tom was able to trade on the fact that he had once been in the army. John traded on his poor eyesight to get a seat closer to the stage.
trade on somethingalso trade upon something
to use something for your own advantage The mayoral candidate ran the kind of campaign that trades on most people's fear of crime. George traded upon his family's powerful connections.
Profit by, exploit, as in The children of celebrities often trade on their family names. [Late 1800s]
trade onor trade upon
To put something to calculated and often unscrupulous advantage; exploit something: The children of celebrities sometimes trade on their family names to receive special treatment. People expect me to trade upon my height and join the basketball team, but I play badly.