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
conclave was our Word of the Day on 02/25/2012. Hear the podcast!
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.
Origin and Etymology of 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
First Known Use: 1524
CONCLAVE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of conclave for English Language Learners
: a private or secret meeting or group
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