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 her revenge – to force him to sew cloth diapers, which would be considered women’s work – feels contrived. Debra Bruno, Washington Post, "Alan Lightman’s ‘Three Flames’ examines the long shadow of Cambodia’s civil war," 11 Sep. 2019 Sometimes the story’s ambiguity runs the risk of feeling contrived. Nora Mcgreevy,, "More than a matter of black and white," 8 Aug. 2019 The Supreme Court last week rejected the administration’s stated reason for adding the citizenship question as contrived. Michael Wines, New York Times, "Justice Dept. Reverses Course on Citizenship Question on Census, Citing Trump’s Orders," 3 July 2019 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

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

12 Oct 2019

Cite this Entry

“Contrive.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 November 2019.

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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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