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 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 Tucker Halpern was quick to confirm that the moment wasn’t contrived whatsoever. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "4xFAR Festival: Anderson .Paak Pays Tribute to Mac Miller, Mark Ronson Closes Out the Weekend With a Bang," 21 Jan. 2020 The task that will be used to test quantum supremacy is contrived — more of a parlor trick than a useful advance (more on this shortly). Quanta Magazine, "Quantum Supremacy Is Coming: Here’s What You Should Know," 18 July 2019 Will Smith also indulges in some movie-star alienation in Bad Boys For Life, as the story contrives to separate Miami cops Mike (Smith) and Marcus (Martin Lawrence) for a sizable chunk of its running time. Jesse Hassenger, TheWeek, "The not-so-parallel careers of Robert Downey Jr. and Will Smith," 17 Jan. 2020 Haynes, who is concurrently editing his documentary on the Velvet Underground and developing a twelve-part TV series on Sigmund Freud, has contrived to keep himself almost continually in that climate of surrender. John Lahr, The New Yorker, "Todd Haynes Rewrites the Hollywood Playbook," 4 Nov. 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

26 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Contrive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jun. 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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