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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Their arcs eventually converge, first with Lydia’s and then with each other’s, movingly if contrived; the finale is executed with nail-biting precision. David Canfield,, "The Handmaid's Tale," 3 Sep. 2019 With a bit of legal juggling the BJP contrived an easier way: the president they had appointed simply issued an order annulling Kashmir’s special status. The Economist, "India abruptly ends the last special protection enjoyed by Kashmir," 6 Aug. 2019 According to Latinobarometro, a pollster, of the Latin Americans who eat only one meal a day, one out of three still contrives to use a smartphone. The Economist, "How the world’s poor are discovering leisure online," 8 June 2019 Mathematicians versed in the art of elliptic-curve construction have used computers to contrive examples with fairly high rank — the current record-setter has at least rank 28 — but such curves are rare and tend to have enormous coefficients. Quanta Magazine, "Mathematicians Shed Light on Minimalist Conjecture," 9 July 2013 Each interaction feels contrived, each gesture an intrusion on your consciousness. Vanessa Chang, WIRED, "How Phone Taps and Swipes Train Us to Be Better Consumers," 10 July 2019 AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File The US Army Corps of Engineers continues to gear up to spend the money contrived by the Trump administration to fortify the southern border. Justin Rohrlich, Quartz, "US Army gears up to spend $1 billion more on border security," 12 June 2019 Though its heroine is informed by Levinson’s youth, Euphoria’s nihilism feels as contrived as a Burger King ad. Judy Berman, Time, "In HBO’s Bleak Gen Z Drama, Euphoria Is the Opposite of Happiness," 13 June 2019 Fenty’s insistence on leaving Chuol’s scars is being applauded by fans because in a world of filters and social media contrived existences, people are yearning for something real. Shalwah Evans, Essence, "Rihanna Sends A Message About Beauty With Website Photos Showing Model’s Scars," 13 June 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about contrive

Statistics for contrive

Last Updated

14 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for contrive

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for contrive



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.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on contrive

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with contrive

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for contrive

Spanish Central: Translation of contrive

Nglish: Translation of contrive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of contrive for Arabic Speakers

Comments on contrive

What made you want to look up contrive? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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