con·​nive | \ kə-ˈnīv How to pronounce connive (audio) \
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

Synonyms for connive


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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 At the end of You season two, fans discovered that Love Quinn was (almost) as conniving, manipulative, and murderous as her lover Joe Goldberg, (sometimes known as Will Bettleheim). Kara Nesvig, Teen Vogue, "In the Book Version of "You," Joe and Forty’s Path is Wildly Different," 9 Jan. 2020 Ultimately she was fired from the show but never lost her cunning, conniving and treacherously deceitful ways. Stephen A. Crockett Jr., The Root, "Omarosa to Join Celebrity Big Brother Because What Else Was She Going to Do?," 29 Jan. 2018 By contrast, there is no evidence to support the president’s vague suggestion that Ukraine, not Russia, might be responsible for the hacking, or that CrowdStrike somehow connived in it. Scott Shane, New York Times, "How a Fringe Theory About Ukraine Took Root in the White House," 3 Oct. 2019 But, in the end, in perhaps the most surprising result of the night, Comer prevailed, perhaps a recognition of the multifaceted demands of playing as conniving and chameleonic a villain as Villanelle. Scott Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "Emmys Analysis: Late-Breaking Shows, Split Votes and Upsets Galore Make for a Crazy Night," 22 Sep. 2019 Bureaucrats, MPs and the police connive in this system, says Mr Hasan. The Economist, "Bangladesh’s ruling party runs university campuses with an iron fist," 31 Oct. 2019 The Sedition Act expired on March 3, 1801, the day before Jefferson’s Inauguration, but, through a series of midnight appointments, Adams had connived to insure that Jefferson inherited a Federalist Supreme Court. Jill Lepore, The New Yorker, "The Invention—and Reinvention—of Impeachment," 21 Oct. 2019 Attorney General Tommy Thomas said the 17 people in the most recent filings were charged under the Malaysian Capital Markets and Services Act with allegedly conniving to commit the massive fraud. Washington Post, "Malaysia charges 17 Goldman Sachs figures over 1MDB scandal," 10 Aug. 2019 And Game of Thrones’ Indira Varma has a grand old time as Piety Breakspear (gah, these character names are sublime!), the conniving wife to a critch-friendly politician (Jared Harris). Kristen Baldwin,, "Amazon's Carnival Row is a big-budget nerd fantasy," 15 Aug. 2019

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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Time Traveler for connive

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The first known use of connive was in 1601

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Last Updated

13 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Connive.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 24 January 2020.

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More Definitions for connive


How to pronounce connive (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of connive

disapproving : to secretly help someone do something dishonest or illegal
con·​nive | \ kə-ˈnīv How to pronounce connive (audio) \
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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More from Merriam-Webster on connive

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for connive

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with connive

Spanish Central: Translation of connive

Nglish: Translation of connive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of connive for Arabic Speakers

Comments on connive

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a feeling of well-being or elation

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