conception

noun

con·​cep·​tion kən-ˈsep-shən How to pronounce conception (audio)
1
a(1)
: the process of becoming pregnant involving fertilization or implantation or both
(2)
b
: beginning
"Joy had the like conception in our eyes … "William Shakespeare
2
a
: the capacity, function, or process of forming or understanding ideas or abstractions or their symbols
He directed the project from conception to completion.
b
: a general idea : concept
We get the conception of an animal … by comparing different animals …John Stuart Mill
c
: a complex product of abstract or reflective thinking
the philosopher's conception of reality
d
: the sum of a person's ideas and beliefs concerning something
his conception of the American dream
3
: the originating of something in the mind
an artist's conception of how the city would look a hundred years from now
conceptional
kən-ˈsep-shnəl How to pronounce conception (audio)
-shə-nᵊl
adjective
conceptive adjective
Choose the Right Synonym for conception

idea, concept, conception, thought, notion, impression mean what exists in the mind as a representation (as of something comprehended) or as a formulation (as of a plan).

idea may apply to a mental image or formulation of something seen or known or imagined, to a pure abstraction, or to something assumed or vaguely sensed.

innovative ideas
my idea of paradise

concept may apply to the idea formed by consideration of instances of a species or genus or, more broadly, to any idea of what a thing ought to be.

a society with no concept of private property

conception is often interchangeable with concept; it may stress the process of imagining or formulating rather than the result.

our changing conception of what constitutes art

thought is likely to suggest the result of reflecting, reasoning, or meditating rather than of imagining.

commit your thoughts to paper

notion suggests an idea not much resolved by analysis or reflection and may suggest the capricious or accidental.

you have the oddest notions

impression applies to an idea or notion resulting immediately from some stimulation of the senses.

the first impression is of soaring height

Examples of conception in a Sentence

He directed the project from conception to production. the conception of a new device They have a clear conception of how the process works. a child's conception of responsibility They have very different conceptions of the proper role of government.
Recent Examples on the Web The finding suggests that autism symptoms can be greatly influenced by events that happen after conception. Jon Hamilton, NPR, 4 Apr. 2024 Less than half a century after its conception in 1911, the park was buried, too, this time beneath a freeway. Michael Snyder Pedro Kok, New York Times, 22 Mar. 2024 See all Example Sentences for conception 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'conception.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English concepcioun, from Anglo-French concepcion, from Latin conception-, conceptio, from concipere — see concept entry 1

First Known Use

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

Time Traveler
The first known use of conception was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near conception

Cite this Entry

“Conception.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conception. Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

conception

noun
con·​cep·​tion kən-ˈsep-shən How to pronounce conception (audio)
1
: the beginning of pregnancy involving formation of a zygote
2
a
: the function or process of conceiving ideas
b
: a general idea : concept
had no conception of what he was saying
3
: the originating of an idea
the conception of a new device

Medical Definition

conception

noun
con·​cep·​tion kən-ˈsep-shən How to pronounce conception (audio)
1
a
: the process of becoming pregnant involving fertilization or implantation or both
b
2
a
: the capacity, function, or process of forming or understanding ideas or abstractions or their symbols
b
: a general idea

More from Merriam-Webster on conception

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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