Definition of connive
- The government connived in the rebels' military buildup.
- The captain connived at the smuggling of goods aboard his ship.
- officials who connive with drug dealers
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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
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.
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.
First Known Use: 1601See Words from the same year
: to secretly help someone do something dishonest or illegal
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