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 Foremost among the opera’s ironies is Agrippina herself (Joyce DiDonato), domineering and conniving throughout the span of this opera, but in real life destined, in the years that would follow, to be hoist by her own petard. James Romm, The New York Review of Books, "The Winking Satire of ‘Agrippina’," 1 Mar. 2020 Depictions of female candidates as calculating or conniving are political mainstays. Alexander Burns, New York Times, "Warren Told Sanders After Debate, ‘I Think You Called Me a Liar on National TV’," 15 Jan. 2020 Actor Mehcad Brooks recently shook up our worlds in the recent Tyler Perry Netflix drama A Fall From Grace as the outwardly charming yet conniving heartthrob Shannon. Jasmine Grant, Essence, "Eye Candy: 13 Sexy Photos Of 'A Fall From Grace' Star Mehcad Brooks We're Obsessing Over," 28 Jan. 2020 The Musical: The Series, Grabeel doesn't miss a beat from his old character Ryan Evans, Sharpay Evans' (Ashley Tisdale) enthusiastic, conniving twin brother. Heran Mamo, Billboard, "'High School Musical' Star Lucas Grabeel Returns to East High as Himself for Disney+ Series Cameo," 27 Dec. 2019 An evil lair for out-of-touch bureaucrats, striving and conniving politicos and entitled elites. Joe Heim, Washington Post, "Don’t believe the haters. In the District, friendly neighbors are everywhere.," 21 Dec. 2019 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

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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Cite this Entry

“Connive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Apr. 2021.

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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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