con·​clave | \ ˈkän-ˌklāv How to pronounce conclave (audio) \

Definition of conclave

1 : a private meeting or secret assembly especially : a meeting of Roman Catholic cardinals secluded continuously while choosing a pope The conclave elected the new pope on the fifth ballot.
2 : a gathering of a group or association the annual conclave of newspaper publishers

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Did You Know?

Ever wonder what happens behind locked doors? The etymology of conclave begs this question as the word comes from a Latin term meaning "room that can be locked up." The English word formerly had the same meaning, but that use is now obsolete. Today, "conclave" refers not to the locked rooms but to the private meetings and secret assemblies that occur within them. "Conclave" is especially likely to refer to a meeting of Roman Catholic cardinals who have secluded themselves to choose a pope, but it can refer to other types of private or secret meetings as well. The meaning of "conclave" has also expanded to include gatherings that are not necessarily secret or private but simply involve people with shared interests.

Examples of conclave in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Parscale’s speech was a highlight of the weekend GOP conclave, in which party delegates sought to map out an election strategy in an increasingly Democratic state that Trump lost by over 4 million votes in 2016. Washington Post, "Manager: Trump family building ‘dynasty’ for decades to come," 9 Sep. 2019 He was named a cardinal by John Paul in 1979 but did not participate in the conclave to elect a successor when John Paul died in 2005; by then, Cardinal Etchegaray, at 80, had surpassed the age limit to vote for a new pope., "Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, a skilled diplomat and troubleshooter dispatched by his friend Pope John Paul II to negotiate for the Roman Catholic Church with Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein, and leaders of the Chinese Communist Party, died Sept. 4 in his native French Basque country. He was 96.," 15 Sep. 2019 In 2017, amid rising nuclear tensions with North Korea, Japan (with South Korea) was invited to a Five Eyes conclave for the first time. The Economist, "Japanese spies, once renowned, have fallen on hard times," 14 Sep. 2019 Two days earlier, Andreessen Horowitz, which hadn’t previously said a word about its conclave, posted six audio recordings of the proceedings, none of which were from the government officials in attendance. Adam Lashinsky, Fortune, "Inside the Private Meeting of Top Crypto Investors and Government Officials—Data Sheet," 5 Sep. 2019 This month, party leaders both current and retired will repair to the beach resort of Beidaihe, about 200 miles east of Beijing, for their annual policy conclave. Anna Fifield,, "Paramount and paranoid: China’s Xi and the Communist Party face a crisis of confidence," 3 Aug. 2019 China’s response is complicated by the fact that the Communist Party’s top leadership is likely decamping this week to the seaside resort of Beidaihe for their annual two-week policy conclave. Fortune, "China Vows to Respond to New Tariffs Threatened by Trump," 2 Aug. 2019 The Alabama junior quarterback will miss the summer quarterback conclave this weekend with a minor hamstring injury, confirms. Michael Casagrande |,, "Injury sidelines Tua Tagovailoa from Manning Passing Academy," 28 June 2019 With China’s top leadership likely to be out of Beijing starting in early August for their annual seaside conclave, people close to the talks say there is a narrow window for face-to-face meeting in the coming two weeks. Los Angeles Times, "Trump meets with tech CEOs and takes a step toward easing Huawei ban," 23 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'conclave.' 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 conclave

1524, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for conclave

Middle English, from Middle French or Medieval Latin; Middle French, from Medieval Latin, from Latin, room that can be locked up, from com- + clavis key — more at clavicle

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Last Updated

4 Oct 2019

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Time Traveler for conclave

The first known use of conclave was in 1524

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More Definitions for conclave



English Language Learners Definition of conclave

formal : a private or secret meeting or group

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More from Merriam-Webster on conclave

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with conclave

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for conclave

Spanish Central: Translation of conclave

Nglish: Translation of conclave for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about conclave

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