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 It was also erroneously believed that female orgasm was critical to conception. Meredith Blake Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "How accurate is ‘Bridgerton’s’ tale of sex and scandal in Regency England? We asked," 25 Dec. 2020 The incoming Biden foreign policy team is indeed expected to underscore democratic governance and a return to a more universalist conception of human rights from the narrow focus on religious freedom pursued by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Howard Lafranchi, The Christian Science Monitor, "What a Biden focus on ‘American values’ means for ties with Russia," 1 Dec. 2020 Future presidents and Congresses will have to decide whether to ratify Mr. Trump’s expansive conception of his office or enact new limits. William A. Galston, WSJ, "Trump Remade His Party and the World," 13 Nov. 2020 Among its most famous features are the Pórtico de la Gloria, a medieval sculpture that depicts a Christian conception of the world, and the western façade, a later addition that mixes architectural styles and forms part of Obradoiro Square. Livia Gershon, Smithsonian Magazine, "A 12th-Century Mason Created a Hidden Self-Portrait in Famed Spanish Cathedral," 3 Nov. 2020 Today’s left, with a few notable exceptions, appeals to a highly moralistic conception of social justice and doctrinaire equality. Daniel J. Mahoney, National Review, "The Spirit of Religion and the Spirit of Liberty," 23 Sep. 2020 Karl Popper, a philosopher of science, described these kinds of conspiracy theories as being like Homer’s conception of the gods’ behavior on Olympus as determining events in day-to-day human life. Jonathan M. Berman, STAT, "Believers need to be as prepared for a Covid-19 vaccine as anti-vaxxers are against it," 9 Sep. 2020 His actions shatter any conception of left-wing protesters shunning the use of deadly weapons while their counterparts on the far right show up in groups that wear military fatigues and openly carry pistols and assault rifles. Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY, "'Arms race': How the Portland shooting shows protesters on the right and the left are bringing guns," 6 Sep. 2020 There is a stark contrast between this conception of work as a source of social recognition and the view of economists from Adam Smith to John Maynard Keynes that work is simply a means of facilitating consumption, one’s own and that of others. Win Mccormack, The New Republic, "Meritocracy on Trial," 23 Dec. 2020

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

13 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Conception.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for conception


How to pronounce conception (audio)

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
2a : the capacity, function, or process of forming or understanding ideas or abstractions or their symbols
b : a general idea

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