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Related to trade on: trade down
trade on (something)
To use something towards a calculated, often exploitative profit or advantage. The butler traded on his association to the princess for years after her death. The actor trades on his good looks, but he hasn't got much talent.
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.
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.