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

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 She was charged with conspiracy to commit murder, along with tampering with physical evidence and hindering prosecution. Emily Wichick Hourihane, CBS News, 6 Apr. 2024 While working at a Roman orphanage before becoming a nun circa 1971, American novitiate Margaret (Nell Tiger Free) discovers a heinous conspiracy at play: The youth have ditched the Catholic Church and powerful holy men want to birth the Antichrist as an extreme way to bring believers back. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, 6 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for conspiracy 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'conspiracy.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 15 Apr. 2024.

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
Etymology

Latin conspiratio, from conspirare to conspire see conspire

More from Merriam-Webster on conspiracy

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