con·​triv·​ance | \ kən-ˈtrī-vən(t)s How to pronounce contrivance (audio) \

Definition of contrivance

1a : a thing contrived especially : a mechanical device modern contrivances to cook food faster
b : an artificial arrangement or development Mistaken identity is used as a plot contrivance in the story.
2 : the act or faculty of contriving : the state of being contrived

Synonyms for contrivance


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Examples of contrivance in a Sentence

The story is filled with plot contrivances that do not fit the ending. He told the story honestly and without contrivance. a contrivance to get out of doing the work He convinced her to go without using contrivance.
Recent Examples on the Web As with so many buzzy debuts, a major label’s efforts to prove a young star’s maturity breeds contrivance. Bobby Olivier, SPIN, 26 July 2022 The intent is to build a fake new self by hastily slapping together a library of memories, as though the most complex of processes can be replaced by a crude contrivance. Kyle Smith, WSJ, 23 June 2022 The exception is a Martin McDonagh-esque plot switch around another death, with a conclusion that raises a gasp but reveals little more than its authorial contrivance. Gordon Cox, Variety, 6 July 2022 The novel’s ambiguous and devastating coda seems to further confirm that Amir was never more than a sweet narrative contrivance. Ursula Lindsey, The New York Review of Books, 6 July 2022 So, in fiction especially, writing a story with an unsolved mystery often depends on a contrivance, some convenient loss of modern technology. Lisa Bubert, Longreads, 15 June 2022 Through a contrivance of angled mirrors and canny lighting, the gap is undetectable from inside the room. Alexandra Schwartz, The New Yorker, 16 May 2022 Through a plot contrivance, Marek comes to live with Villiam. New York Times, 13 June 2022 But the audience, of course, recognizes what’s really going on: that the entire situation is the movie’s knowing contrivance, a way of throwing a pop star and a nobody together. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 10 Feb. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of contrivance

circa 1628, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for contrivance

see contrive

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Time Traveler for contrivance

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The first known use of contrivance was circa 1628

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Statistics for contrivance

Last Updated

4 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Contrivance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for contrivance


con·​triv·​ance | \ kən-ˈtrī-vəns How to pronounce contrivance (audio) \

Kids Definition of contrivance

: something (as a scheme or a mechanical device) produced with skill and cleverness

More from Merriam-Webster on contrivance

Nglish: Translation of contrivance for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of contrivance for Arabic Speakers


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