con·​nive | \kə-ˈnīv \
connived; conniving

Definition of connive 

intransitive verb

1 : to pretend ignorance of or fail to take action against something one ought to oppose The government connived in the rebels' military buildup.

2a : 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

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Other Words from connive

conniver noun

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.

Examples of connive in a Sentence

the principal connived at all the school absences that were recorded on the day of the city's celebration of its Super Bowl victory suspects that his coworkers are conniving to get him fired

Recent Examples on the Web

Fumero’s haughty, conniving, intense character and her heartless toying with Siegfried and the audience gave the production its sizzle. Elaine Schmidt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee Ballet's 'Swan Lake' is one gorgeous dance after another," 1 June 2018 Played with willowy fragility by Elle Fanning, Mary is an imaginative 16-year-old enamored of ghost stories and constrained by her studious father and conniving stepmother. Barbara Vandenburgh, azcentral, "Author biopic ‘Mary Shelley’ is simply ordinary," 7 June 2018 In other key roles, John Bostic is a slithery, eager to please but conniving J. Edgar Hoover. Theodore P. Mahne,, "'All the Way' a brilliant political drama from Southern Rep," 29 May 2018 Michelle Yeoh stars as Nick's conniving mother Eleanor, while Gemma Chan scored the role of Nick's fashionable and enviable cousin Astrid Leong. Anika Reed, USA TODAY, "'Crazy Rich Asians': Everything we know about the movie," 25 May 2018 Meanwhile, Jacobson is conniving behind the scenes. Shawn Tully, Fortune, "Paper Jam! How Carl Icahn And a Billionaire Partner Blocked Xerox’s Merger with Fujifilm," 21 May 2018 Lucy’s mother Carol, the head of Rittenhouse, was shot by her conniving agent Emma (Annie Wersching), and Rufus was killed in a firefight — in a different situation than Jiya had seen. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, "'Timeless' finale recap: Cliffhanger makes loyal fans sweat the show's renewal even more," 14 May 2018 In the movie, a down-on-his-luck race driver played by actor Dean Jones defends a Beetle from a conniving car dealer who is treating it abusively. Spencer Jakab, WSJ, "Fan Homage to a Favored VW Has One Glaring Flaw: Speed," 6 May 2018 Trump would also give to (among others) Schumer, Eliot Spitzer, and Andrew Cuomo, who took Trump as a client even as his father was governor and Trump was conniving to develop the West Side yards and build a domed football stadium in Queens. Frank Rich, Daily Intelligencer, "The Original Donald Trump," 29 Apr. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of connive

1601, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for 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

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The first known use of connive was in 1601

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More Definitions for connive



English Language Learners Definition of connive

: to secretly help someone do something dishonest or illegal


transitive verb
con·​nive | \kə-ˈnīv \
connived; conniving

Legal Definition of connive 

: 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

History and Etymology for connive

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

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