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

Example Sentences

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 trio, according to Boardman and Nicoletti, had been working together since the museum’s early conception, which dates back to 2017. Abbey White, The Hollywood Reporter, 15 Nov. 2022 Environmental exposures of the father before conception may also be related to poor fetal outcomes. Karen Weintraub, USA TODAY, 15 Nov. 2022 Witt and Banks are both Black, meaning before the votes were counted, Hennepin County was to elect its first Black sheriff since the office's conception in 1852. Danielle Wallace, Fox News, 10 Nov. 2022 This incredible new caliber—the result of a single Omega watchmaker’s efforts—is beyond anything the maison has ever designed and built before, with respect both to conception and engineering. Oren Hartov, Robb Report, 26 Oct. 2022 And in the study, neonatal mortality among Black mothers was 0.5% in the spontaneous conception group and 1.6% in the IVF group. Andrew Joseph, STAT, 21 Oct. 2022 During spontaneous conception, Asian and Pacific Islanders have a 10% lower rate of infant death than White women. Jacqueline Howard, CNN, 19 Oct. 2022 In the meantime, Serena wants to reopen the facility as a fertility center, focusing more on conception and the gift of life rather than Gilead's controversial policies. Matt Cabral, EW.com, 5 Oct. 2022 In July, an attempt by Senate Democrats to pass a bill to enshrine conception access into federal law was blocked by Republican lawmakers. Sophie Mellor, Fortune, 4 Oct. 2022 See More

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.

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 1 Dec. 2022.

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

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