con·​spir·​a·​cy | \kən-ˈspir-ə-sē \
plural conspiracies

Definition of conspiracy 

1 : the act of conspiring together They were accused of conspiracy to commit murder.

2a : an agreement among conspirators uncovered a conspiracy against the government

b : a group of conspirators a conspiracy made up of disgruntled aristocrats

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Synonyms for conspiracy


design, intrigue, machination, plot, scheme

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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

Examples of conspiracy in a Sentence

The CIA uncovered a conspiracy against the government. They were accused of conspiracy to commit murder.

Recent Examples on the Web

Whitley pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to possess with intent to sell 67.8 grams of crack cocaine. Guillermo Contreras, San Antonio Express-News, "San Antonio father of slain 4-year-old pleads guilty to crack charges," 11 May 2018 Harding eventually pleaded guilty to conspiracy to hinder the prosecution and was banned from U.S. Figure Skating. Michelle R. Martinelli, For The Win, "Why Erin Andrews was 'pumped' to meet Tonya Harding on DWTS," 2 May 2018 Three defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and five defendants are charged with aggravated identity theft. Wsj Staff, WSJ, "Mueller Indictments: Who’s Who," 13 July 2018 Northrup was charged with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base. Ruth Bruno,, "Meriden Man Pleads Guilty To Operating Drug Ring While In Prison," 10 July 2018 Your President*'s ex-campaign head's in jail and charged, among other things, with conspiracy against you. Jessica Derschowitz,, "How stars are celebrating the Fourth of July," 4 July 2018 Samuel Diaz-Ramos, 32, was charged with money laundering conspiracy. Pamela Wood,, "Two dozen alleged MS-13 gang members indicted in federal court," 30 June 2018 Brooks is charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Campbell Lutz, ajc, "Georgia inmate charged with conspiracy to commit murder," 30 June 2018 The police investigated, and in 1978 Thorpe, Holmes, and two acquaintances named John Le Mesurier and George Deakin were charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Elizabeth Angell, Town & Country, "A Very English Scandal," 29 June 2018

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.

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First Known Use of conspiracy

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for conspiracy

Middle English conspiracie, from Latin conspirare — see conspire

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Statistics for conspiracy

Last Updated

9 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for conspiracy

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

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English Language Learners Definition of conspiracy

: a secret plan made by two or more people to do something that is harmful or illegal

: the act of secretly planning to do something that is harmful or illegal


con·​spir·​a·​cy | \kən-ˈspir-ə-sē \
plural conspiracies

Kids Definition of conspiracy

1 : a secret agreement to do something harmful or unlawful

2 : the act of plotting with others to do something harmful or unlawful

3 : a group of conspirators


con·​spir·​a·​cy | \kən-ˈspir-ə-sē \
plural conspiracies

Legal Definition of conspiracy 

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

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