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

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 The only thing slicker than those conniving aliens is Thompson’s glossy hair. Jennifer Ford, Essence, "Tessa Thompson's Hairstyles Are Out Of This World," 20 June 2019 Leicester Landon gives Don John a cool, conniving countenance., "Wittiness and romance make ‘Much Ado’ quite something at Tulane Shakespeare Fest," 19 June 2019 Fox Searchlight All the while, Abigail and Sarah connive and sabotage one another to remain the titular favorite of the Queen. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "What Is The Favourite Movie About? It's a Rom-Com of a Sort," 23 Feb. 2019 Lamster captures a brilliant, restless, conniving, ambitious man. Mary Ann Gwinn, The Seattle Times, "A closer look at three National Book Critics Circle finalists," 20 Feb. 2019 In the sixth season, his character, the conniving fictional US President Frank Underwood, has died, and his wife Claire (played by Robin Wright) occupies the Oval Office. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Kevin Spacey released a bizarre video evoking Frank Underwood, apparently to defend himself," 24 Dec. 2018 And with three skilled actresses at the film’s center, characters that could so easily be reduced to familiar stereotypes — the crazy one, the conniving one, the social climber — are instead imbued with humanity. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "The Favourite is a deliciously wicked tale of sex, women, and power plays," 21 Nov. 2018 From Jamie's willful aunt to conniving pirate, as well as Scottish settlers intent on making a home in the new world and Native Americans, Claire and Jamie will cross paths with some very interesting people in the coming episodes. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Outlander Season 4: Meet the New Cast," 30 Oct. 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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Statistics for connive

Last Updated

14 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for connive

The first known use of connive was in 1601

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More Definitions for connive



English Language Learners Definition of connive

disapproving : to secretly help someone do something dishonest or illegal


transitive verb
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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with connive

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for connive

Spanish Central: Translation of connive

Nglish: Translation of connive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of connive for Arabic Speakers

Comments on connive

What made you want to look up connive? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


an act or instance of editing or removing

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