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

transitive verb

: devise, plan
contrive ways of handling the situation
The prisoners contrived a way to escape.
: 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.
: to bring about by stratagem or with difficulty : manage
he contrived to win their support

intransitive verb

: to make schemes
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 He is sometimes inspired to make a poor choice, but, as with the silent comedians of old, the universe will contrive to save him. Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times, 7 June 2024 And Ohio voters should neither forgive nor forget if legislators contrive specious reasons to deny the people of their state an actual voice in the November election. The Editors, National Review, 28 May 2024 The fungibility of money can feel by turns sublime, magical, contrived. Andrew Lipstein, Harper's Magazine, 26 Apr. 2024 In a similar, less successful vein, his overrated Drive My Car contrived an obvious update of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya. Armond White, National Review, 8 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for contrive 

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near contrive

Cite this Entry

“Contrive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


con·​trive kən-ˈtrīv How to pronounce contrive (audio)
contrived; contriving
: plan entry 2 sense 1, plot
contrive a way to escape
: to form or make in a skillful or clever way : invent
: bring about, manage
contriving to make ends meet
contriver noun

More from Merriam-Webster on contrive

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!