con·​ceit | \kən-ˈsēt \

Definition of conceit 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a(1) : a result of mental activity : thought

(2) : individual opinion

b : favorable opinion especially : excessive appreciation of one's own worth or virtue … the landlord's conceit of his own superior knowledge … — Adam Smith

2 : a fancy item or trifle Conceits were fancy desserts, made either of sugar … or pastry.— Francie Owen

3a : a fanciful idea

b : an elaborate or strained metaphor The poem abounds in metaphysical conceits.

c : use or presence of such conceits in poetry

d : an organizing theme or concept … found his conceit for the film early …— Peter Wilkinson … the historian's conceit that the past is forever prologue …— Leon V. Sigal


conceited; conceiting; conceits

Definition of conceit (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 obsolete : conceive, understand

2 chiefly dialectal : imagine

3 dialectal British : to take a fancy to

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of conceit in a Sentence


His conceit has earned him many enemies. the conceit that the crowd at the outdoor rock concert was a vast sea of people waving to the beat of the music


after a huge meal like that, I cannot conceit eating another thing for the rest of the day
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Thurber makes that trickery explicit by setting one action scene in a fun house hall of mirrors, a derivative trompe l’oeil conceit of which the filmmakers prove far too enamored. Justin Chang,, "Dwayne Johnson scales the heights in the thrillingly dumb 'Skyscraper'," 11 July 2018 The visual conceit — which is not easily forgotten by those of us who were there — involved making the conformist couple's home into a kind of reflecting pool, surrounding a bathtub. Chris Jones,, "Michael Shannon returns to the role he played in 1995 for Red Orchid's 25th season," 3 July 2018 The conceit of the story, like the kindness, is straightforward: A new girl comes to school. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, "Children’s Books: Safety and Comfort in Numbers," 27 Apr. 2018 First, the commission should abandon the regulator’s conceit that every little error deserves to be corrected by a rule. F.h. Buckley, WSJ, "The ‘Swamp’ Needs a Justinian," 19 Apr. 2018 The social and political comedy inherent in the idea is obvious; but what’s so strangely compelling about DeWitt’s novel is less its message than the extreme care with which the central conceit is worked out. Adam Kirsch, The Atlantic, "The Anguished Comedy of Helen DeWitt," 25 June 2018 That's cute, and all, but creator Domee Shi uses this conceit to explore larger themes of identity., "The Incredibles 2," 13 June 2018 This is the central conceit of Orwell: Ignorance is Strength. Michael Moore, The Verge, "After Cambridge Analytica, this game about government surveillance feels quaint," 15 Apr. 2018 In his typical fashion, reedist, composer, and bandleader Geof Bradfield deployed a veritable notebook of conceptual conceits when writing and formulating his new album Yes, and . . . Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader, "Geof Bradfield takes inspiration from Chicago comedy culture and French composer Olivier Messiaen on his latest project," 21 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'conceit.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of conceit


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)


1557, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for conceit


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from conceivre — see conceive


see conceit entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about conceit

Statistics for conceit

Last Updated

1 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for conceit

The first known use of conceit was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for conceit



English Language Learners Definition of conceit

: too much pride in your own worth or goodness

: an idea that shows imagination


con·​ceit | \kən-ˈsēt \

Kids Definition of conceit

: too much pride in a person's own abilities or qualities : excessive self-esteem

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on conceit

What made you want to look up conceit? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


obstinately defiant of authority

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!