verb con·nive \ kə-ˈnīv \
|Updated on: 14 Jul 2018

Definition of connive

connived; conniving
1 : to pretend ignorance of or fail to take action against something one ought to oppose
  • The government connived in the rebels' military buildup.
2 a : to be indulgent or in secret sympathy : wink
  • The captain connived at the smuggling of goods aboard his ship.
b : to cooperate secretly or have a secret understanding
  • officials who connive with drug dealers
3 : conspire, intrigue
  • accused his opponents of conniving to defeat the proposal



connive was our Word of the Day on 12/05/2012. Hear the podcast!

Examples of connive in a Sentence

  1. the principal connived at all the school absences that were recorded on the day of the city's celebration of its Super Bowl victory

  2. suspects that his coworkers are conniving to get him fired

Recent Examples of connive from the Web

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

Did You Know?

Connive may not seem like a troublesome term, but it was to Wilson Follett, a usage critic who lamented that the word was undone during the Second World War, when restless spirits felt the need of a new synonym for plotting, bribing, spying, conspiring, engineering a coup, preparing a secret attack. Follett thought "connive" should only mean "to wink at" or "to pretend ignorance." Those senses are closer to the Latin ancestor of the word ("connive" comes from the Latin connivēre, which means "to close the eyes" and which is descended from "-nivēre," a form akin to the Latin verb nictare, meaning "to wink"). But many English speakers disagreed, and the "conspire" sense is now the word's most widely used meaning.

Origin and Etymology of connive

French or Latin; French conniver, from Latin conivēre, connivēre to close the eyes, connive, from com- + -nivēre (akin to nictare to wink); akin to Old English & Old High German hnīgan to bow

CONNIVE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of connive for English Language Learners

  • : to secretly help someone do something dishonest or illegal

Law Dictionary


transitive verb con·nive \ kə-ˈnīv \

legal Definition of connive

connived; conniving
: to assent knowingly and wrongfully without opposition to another's wrongdoing; specifically : to knowingly consent to a spouse's marital misconduct and especially to adultery

Origin and Etymology of connive

Latin con(n)ivere to close one's eyes, knowingly overlook something

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