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 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 Yet as the documentary about the hard-hitting TV newsman soon makes clear, those are the four words no crooked politician or conniving businessperson ever wanted to hear. Scott Craven, azcentral, "Riveting 'Mike Wallace Is Here' penetrates deep into the psyche of a great journalist," 6 Aug. 2019 In the movie, Bradley would play a con man who teams up with an even-more-conniving psychiatrist to run scams. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Bradley Cooper Might Be Taking Over a Role That Leonardo DiCaprio Was Supposed to Play," 15 June 2019 Three-time Oscar-winner Streep has done some of the best work of her career as a grieving, conniving mother. Hal Boedeker,, "Apollo 11 specials, Meryl Streep: Out of this world," 19 July 2019 Scar gets a different vibe Scar has always been a tricky, conniving villain, prone to double-crossing friends and foes alike. Raisa Bruner, Time, "Here's How the New Lion King Is Different From the Original," 17 July 2019 As in most organizations, some connived to thwart office rivals and accumulate resources. Brandon R. Brown, Smithsonian, "Apollo Engineers Discuss What It Took to Land on the Moon," 12 July 2019 The production hired the white actor Jonathan Pryce to reprise his turn as the Engineer (a conniving Eurasian pimp), setting off protests that nearly derailed the show’s Broadway plans. San Diego Union-Tribune, "For San Diego-raised actor Jackie Nguyen, ‘Miss Saigon’ has been a major part of her art and life," 30 June 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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Statistics for connive

Last Updated

7 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for connive

The first known use of connive was in 1601

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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

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a calculated move

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