con·​trive | \ kən-ˈtrīv How to pronounce contrive (audio) \
contrived; contriving

Definition of contrive

transitive verb

1a : devise, plan contrive ways of handling the situation The prisoners contrived a way to escape.
b : to form or create in an artistic or ingenious manner contrived household utensils from stone Native Americans contrived weapons out of stone, wood, and bone.
2 : to bring about by stratagem or with difficulty : manage he contrived to win their support

intransitive verb

: to make schemes

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Other Words from contrive

contriver noun

Examples of contrive in a Sentence

The prisoners contrived a way to escape. He contrived a meeting with the president.
Recent Examples on the Web Now, parents don't have to contrive a scheme to keep their kids from eating too much candy in one day. Hannah Yasharoff, USA TODAY, "Neil Patrick Harris teases family's Halloween costumes for 2020: 'I've got a clever idea'," 21 Oct. 2020 Over the years since, DC Comics has suffered conniptions in contriving ways to use characters who are tethered to the middle of the last century. cleveland, "Welcome back, Justice Society: Captain Comics," 29 May 2020 While this all sounds as contrived as friends forcing each other to dance with their crushes in a school gym, that's also what makes the formula work so well for this show and many others. Whitney Friedlander, CNN, "'The Hills: New Beginnings' cast may be in their 30s, but they might as well still be in high school," 25 June 2019 Father and son have a predictable falling out — predictable, but not as contrived as some of Javed's other emotional crises. John Defore, Billboard, "'Blinded by the Light': Sundance 2019 Film Review," 28 Jan. 2019 But the longtime checker has an easy way about her that lifts the mood; Lou talks a lot, but it’s not contrived or grating. Sharon Grigsby, Dallas News, "For 22 years, this Dallas-area grocery cashier has been essential to customers’ lives, and never more so than now," 22 Apr. 2020 Author Claude Lévi-Strauss investigated how cultures structure experience around contrived binary oppositions. Virginia Heffernan, Wired, "What Plant-Based Burgers Can Teach Us About Saving the Planet," 1 Apr. 2020 While the Roth family, renamed the Levins in the HBO show, and many of the characters mentioned in The Plot Against America are based on real people, much of the narrative is entirely contrived. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, "The True History Behind ‘The Plot Against America’," 16 Mar. 2020 France was correct, even if the system was contrived. Jenna Fryer,, "Brian France’s NASCAR playoff vision looking good," 21 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'contrive.' 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 contrive

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for contrive

Middle English controven, contreven, from Anglo-French controver, contrever, from Medieval Latin contropare to compare, from Latin com- + Vulgar Latin *tropare to compose, find — more at troubadour

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Time Traveler for contrive

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for contrive

Last Updated

27 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Contrive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for contrive


How to pronounce contrive (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of contrive

: to form or think of (a plan, method, etc.)
: to form or make (something) in a skillful or clever way
: to make (something) happen in a clever way or with difficulty


con·​trive | \ kən-ˈtrīv How to pronounce contrive (audio) \
contrived; contriving

Kids Definition of contrive

1 : plan entry 2 sense 1, plot We must contrive a way to escape.
2 : to form or make in some skillful or clever way He contrived a small pipe out of the piece of wood.
3 : to manage to bring about or do She contrived to get there on time.

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Comments on contrive

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