con·​cep·​tion | \ kən-ˈsep-shən How to pronounce conception (audio) \

Definition of conception

1a(1) : the process of becoming pregnant involving fertilization or implantation or both
(2) : embryo, fetus
b : beginning "Joy had the like conception in our eyes … "— William Shakespeare
2a : 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

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Other Words from conception

conceptional \ kən-​ˈsep-​shnəl How to pronounce conception (audio) , -​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective
conceptive \ kən-​ˈsep-​tiv How to pronounce conception (audio) \ 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Hoover’s conception returned as a driving principle of American politics in the last few decades of the 20th century. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Biden’s American Families Plan would make the social safety net a reality," 28 Apr. 2021 The answer would seem to lie in something more important and much older than any modern conception of race. Evan Myers, National Review, "The Problem with ‘Allyship’," 27 Apr. 2021 Nearly 30 years after Happy Sport’s conception, Chopard has reimagined the style in a new 33mm-diameter model inspired by the golden ratio; 13 variations include Lucent steel and rose gold, and one set entirely in diamonds. Jill Newman, Town & Country, "Can Diamonds Be Happy? Inside Chopard's Latest Collection," 21 Apr. 2021 In prioritizing religious liberty claims over health and anti-bias concerns, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority has, to my mind, promoted a skewed conception of what religious freedom is. Steven K. Green, The Conversation, "How the Supreme Court found its faith and put ‘religious liberty’ on a winning streak," 13 Apr. 2021 Superfetation refers to fertilization and implantation of a second conception during pregnancy. Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, "Woman gives birth to "super twins" conceived three weeks apart," 2 Apr. 2021 Politics, far from being, in Hannah Arendt’s conception, the source of human freedom—which includes the freedom to be silent, obscure, ambivalent, or defiant—becomes nothing more than identity, which in turn is nothing more than power relations. Thomas Chatterton Williams, Harper's Magazine, "Campaign Literature," 16 Mar. 2021 Karthik Dinakar of The Chelsea Project, a nonprofit program to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in the working-class city of Chelsea, Mass., points out that there can and should be a conception of community risk distinct from individual risk. Jonathan Zittrain, STAT, "Using a collective ‘virtuous cycle’ to break the pandemic," 5 Mar. 2021 But the bigger impediment is the shows’ self-conception. Jason Zengerle, New York Times, "How the Trump Era Broke the Sunday-Morning News Show," 11 Feb. 2021

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

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First Known Use of conception

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

History and Etymology for conception

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

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Time Traveler for conception

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for conception

Last Updated

1 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Conception.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for conception



English Language Learners Definition of conception

: the process of forming an idea
: the process that occurs within a woman's body when she becomes pregnant
: an idea of what something is or should be


con·​cep·​tion | \ kən-ˈsep-shən How to pronounce conception (audio) \

Medical Definition of conception

1a : the process of becoming pregnant involving fertilization or implantation or both
b : embryo, fetus
2a : the capacity, function, or process of forming or understanding ideas or abstractions or their symbols
b : a general idea

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