con·​triv·​ance kən-ˈtrī-vən(t)s How to pronounce contrivance (audio)
: a thing contrived
especially : a mechanical device
modern contrivances to cook food faster
: an artificial arrangement or development
Mistaken identity is used as a plot contrivance in the story.
: the act or faculty of contriving : the state of being contrived

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 The series skewers white guilt, virtue signaling, high-art pretentiousness and reality TV contrivances. Ryan Faughnder, Los Angeles Times, 21 Nov. 2023 Some readers will rue the absence of reality-warping plot contrivances, unreliable narration and metafictional devices. Malcolm Forbes, Los Angeles Times, 1 Nov. 2023 Add a dizzying array of narrative convolutions, coincidences and contrivances and the movie becomes a lot to carry, especially when the tone is supposed to be feather-light. Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, 3 Oct. 2023 Lest viewers become even briefly comfortable with the enchantments of his staging and of his actors’ performances, Anderson jolts them alert with ever more audacious contrivances. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 2 Oct. 2023 To put forth this message, the film twists itself into knots of contrivance and confusion. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 30 Sep. 2023 Perhaps market finance, the rule of law, and property rights were unnecessary and, from the perspective of Chinese culture, undesirable and counterproductive contrivances. Yasheng Huang, Foreign Affairs, 25 Sep. 2023 The story has contrivances and moments of melodrama, but the sensational, quietly commanding performance by the 46-year-old Palestinian actor Saleh Bakri was a standout at the festival. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, 13 Sep. 2023 The movie’s stylized enough to forgive certain contrivances, but that doesn’t excuse Fennell’s preposterous disregard for psychology. Peter Debruge, Variety, 31 Aug. 2023 See More

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

Word History


contrive + -ance

First Known Use

circa 1628, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of contrivance was circa 1628

Dictionary Entries Near contrivance

Cite this Entry

“Contrivance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


con·​triv·​ance kən-ˈtrī-vən(t)s How to pronounce contrivance (audio)
: something (as a scheme or mechanical device) produced with skill and cleverness

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