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noun in·trigue \ˈin-ˌtrēg, in-ˈ\

Simple Definition of intrigue

  • : the activity of making secret plans

  • : a secret plan

Full Definition of intrigue

  1. 1 a :  a secret scheme :  machination b :  the practice of engaging in secret schemes

  2. 2 :  a clandestine love affair

Examples of intrigue

  1. Rolston's work channels the vampish intrigue of vintage Hollywood with a sense of irony and wit that makes the work truly modern. —Stephanie Sung, Picture, September/October 2008

  2. In this, as in any other enterprise where there is the promise of money, intrigues and lies and hoodwinking and bullying abound. —Alice Munro, “Hard-Luck Stories,” in In the Stacks, 2002

  3. The story began to take on a warm, attractive glow as a Highland romantic epic of heroism and villainy, of intrigue and bravery, complete with comely maidens such as Flora MacDonald and handsome heroes such as Bonnie Prince Charlie himself. —Arthur Herman, How the Scots Invented the Modern World, 2001

  4. a novel of intrigue and romance

  5. an administration characterized by intrigue and corruption

Origin of intrigue

French intricate affair, from Italian intrigo, from intrigare to entangle, from Latin intricare (see intricate)

First Known Use: 1609

Synonym Discussion of intrigue

plot, intrigue, machination, conspiracy, cabal mean a plan secretly devised to accomplish an evil or treacherous end. plot implies careful foresight in planning a complex scheme <an assassination plot>. intrigue suggests secret underhanded maneuvering in an atmosphere of duplicity <backstairs intrigue>. machination implies a contriving of annoyances, injuries, or evils by indirect means <the machinations of a party boss>. conspiracy implies a secret agreement among several people usually involving treason or great treachery <a conspiracy to fix prices>. cabal typically applies to political intrigue involving persons of some eminence <a cabal among powerful senators>.



verb in·trigue \in-ˈtrēg\

Simple Definition of intrigue

  • : to make (someone) want to know more about something : to cause (someone) to become interested

  • : to make secret plans

Full Definition of intrigue


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  cheat, trick

  3. 2 :  to get, make, or accomplish by secret scheming <intrigued myself into the club>

  4. 3 obsolete :  entangle

  5. 4 :  to arouse the interest, desire, or curiosity of <intrigued by the tale>

  6. intransitive verb
  7. :  to carry on an intrigue (see 1intrigue); especially :  plot, scheme

in·trigu·er noun

Examples of intrigue

  1. One day during math study period, after I'd finished my regular assignment, I took out a fresh sheet of paper and tried to solve a problem that had intrigued me: whether the first player in a game of ticktacktoe can always win, given the right strategy. —Martin Gardner, Scientific American, August 1998

  2. Bundy was also a man whose thinking in foreign affairs was extremely conventional… but who in the area of domestic policy was curiously more open-minded and unconventional, so that throughout the Kennedy years, friends would be intrigued by the difference in Bundy. —David Halberstam, Harper's, July 1969

  3. <evidence that the leading manufacturers had intrigued to keep prices artificially high>

  4. <the mystery story intrigued me so that I read it in one sitting>

Origin of intrigue

(see 1intrigue)

First Known Use: 1612

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February 7, 2016

a slight offense

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