conspiracy

noun

con·​spir·​a·​cy kən-ˈspir-ə-sē How to pronounce conspiracy (audio)
plural conspiracies
1
: the act of conspiring together
They were accused of conspiracy to commit murder.
2
a
: an agreement among conspirators
uncovered a conspiracy against the government
b
: a group of conspirators
a conspiracy made up of disgruntled aristocrats

see also conspiracy theory

Choose the Right Synonym for conspiracy

plot, intrigue, machination, conspiracy, cabal mean a plan secretly devised to accomplish an evil or treacherous end.

plot implies careful foresight in planning a complex scheme.

an assassination plot

intrigue suggests secret underhanded maneuvering in an atmosphere of duplicity.

backstairs intrigue

machination implies a contriving of annoyances, injuries, or evils by indirect means.

the machinations of a party boss

conspiracy implies a secret agreement among several people usually involving treason or great treachery.

a conspiracy to fix prices

cabal typically applies to political intrigue involving persons of some eminence.

a cabal among powerful senators

Example Sentences

The CIA uncovered a conspiracy against the government. They were accused of conspiracy to commit murder.
Recent Examples on the Web Overnight on Monday, Twitter also restored the account of Ron Watkins – a prominent conspiracy theorist who then-President Trump retweeted multiple times in the days before the assault on the Capitol. Donie O'sullivan, CNN, 10 Jan. 2023 In 2019, another conspiracy theorist tried to set the building on fire. Miles Klee, Rolling Stone, 30 Dec. 2022 Greene is a conspiracy theorist who has lied to her constituents about the outcome of the 2020 election, Covid, and climate change. Tori Otten, The New Republic, 29 Dec. 2022 This was, after all, the year when a conspiracy theorist was held accountable for dispensing cruel lies about a mass shooting of children. Jena Mcgregor, Forbes, 28 Dec. 2022 Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist and far-right media personality, scored $200,000. Aaron Blake, Washington Post, 23 Dec. 2022 Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist and far-right media personality, scored $200,000. Isaac Stanley-becker And Beth Reinhard, Anchorage Daily News, 22 Dec. 2022 Lindell, the most prominent election conspiracy theorist this side of Mar-a-Lago, has paid tens millions of dollars to conduct baseless investigations of Democratic voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election that Trump lost. Steven Lemongello, Orlando Sentinel, 22 Dec. 2022 Doug Jensen, a QAnon conspiracy theorist from Iowa, was convicted of seven federal counts. CBS News, 16 Dec. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'conspiracy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English conspiracie, from Latin conspirare — see conspire

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of conspiracy was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near conspiracy

Cite this Entry

“Conspiracy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conspiracy. Accessed 26 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition

conspiracy

noun
con·​spir·​a·​cy kən-ˈspir-ə-sē How to pronounce conspiracy (audio)
plural conspiracies
1
: the act of conspiring together
2
a
: an agreement among conspirators
b
: a group of conspirators

Legal Definition

conspiracy

noun
con·​spir·​a·​cy kən-ˈspir-ə-sē How to pronounce conspiracy (audio)
plural conspiracies
1
: an agreement between two or more people to commit an act prohibited by law or to commit a lawful act by means prohibited by law
also : the crime or tort of participating in a conspiracy compare substantive crime

Note: Some states require an overt act in addition to the agreement to constitute conspiracy.

chain conspiracy
: a conspiracy in which the conspirators act separately and successively (as in distributing narcotics)
civil conspiracy
: a conspiracy that is not prosecuted as a crime but that forms the grounds for a lawsuit
criminal conspiracy
: a conspiracy prosecuted as a crime
2
: a group of conspirators

History and Etymology for conspiracy

Latin conspiratio, from conspirare to conspire see conspire

More from Merriam-Webster on conspiracy

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