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

But nothing the Clinton White House did comes anywhere near the constant barrage of conspiracy mongering that Donald Trump is using against special counsel Robert Mueller. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "Trump won’t like Brett Kavanaugh’s position on independent investigations of the White House.," 12 July 2018 Kaloyeros was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and two counts of wire fraud. Fox News, "Jury convicts key players in corruption case linked to Cuomo's 'Buffalo Billion' program," 12 July 2018 She has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud which comes with a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Alexia Fernandez,, "Bad Girls Club Star & Kanye's Muse Shannade Clermont Arrested for Stealing Dead Man's Identity," 11 July 2018 Kyung Song on Tuesday agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to engage in money laundering, US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling’s office said in a statement. Travis Andersen,, "Lexington man will admit to role in prostitution ring, feds say," 11 July 2018 The same law firm was involved in the Steele Dossier, a connection Jordan implies is proof of a conspiracy. Laura Mcgann, Vox, "What Donald Trump and Jim Jordan really mean when they say “locker room talk”," 7 July 2018 But after an 11-day trial in January in Madison federal court, Sinovel was convicted of conspiracy to commit trade secret theft, theft of trade secrets and wire fraud. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Chinese firm fined $1.5 million in theft of trade secrets from Wisconsin computer firm," 6 July 2018 Co-defendants Gill and Klem, a 15-year DMV employee, previously pleaded guilty to counts of conspiracy to commit bribery and identity fraud and are awaiting sentencing. Julia Sclafani, sacbee, "DMV employee found guilty in bogus license scheme with truck driving schools," 27 June 2018 Gurdev Singh, of Bakersfield, accused of helping recruit victims, pleaded guilty last week to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Kristina Davis,, "Man at center of $1.5 million immigration fraud prosecution flees to Mexico, possibly with Nigerian passport," 28 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

Latin conspiratio, from conspirare to conspire — see conspire

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Last Updated

14 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for conspiracy

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

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More Definitions for conspiracy



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

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